Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Measuring and managing, part of Process Improvement Foundations.
- Before you can improve a process, you need to know whether it needs improving. And then, as soon as you start to intervene, some might say interfere, you need to know whether you've made a difference. Or rather you need to know whether the changes were due to what you did or due to something else, or just due to pure chance. After all, there's a 50/50 chance that this year will be better than last year even if you do nothing. So we need to measure what's going on with our processes.
In fact, it's been said that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. But do you think that's really true? Can't we manage something without being able to reduce it down to a number? In fact, can everything be measured? What about quality or service or design or culture? Can these be measured? Well, I would say yes, but then I started out as an engineer so I'm bound to say that. And I do believe that if you're not measuring something then there's a risk that you'll end up assuming things are okay when maybe they're not, and you won't take action until they've got really bad and the problem has become visible even to someone who's not measuring anything.
It would be good to not leave it that late. So I'm going to be suggesting on this course that we work out the key things and measure them so that we can monitor and then optimize them. And optimize doesn't mean maximize or minimize. The best place to be is often at 80% rather than 100% as we'll see. So it all starts with scientific management. Decide where you want to be and then measure your progress towards that point.
My heart sinks every time I hear a company say, "We're having a reorganization." Because I just know that that means they're going to have several years of chaos, expensive chaos, with the good people leaving and bad ones waiting in the hope of redundancy money. And then when all the pieces they threw up in the air have fallen back down again into a different pattern, yes, it's different, but is it any better than before? Some bits are probably better, but some are also probably worse. So much better would be to measure everything, work out where the problems are, and just target those areas, and then measure whether you're getting those problem areas sorted out or not.
So the first question of process improvement is are you measuring enough? What are the black holes, the processes that apparently can't be measured in your area of work? If you had to measure them, how would you do it?
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- Measuring processes
- Using statistical process control
- Optimizing the quality, cost, and time trade-off
- Understanding queues
- Reducing cost by reducing waste
- Improving delivery time
- Thinking about batch sizes
- Understanding Lean and Six Sigma processes