A Return to First Principles (Part 11a), Unearthing the Treasure!

The quest: to find that one, real, current-state best way to do the task.

The reality: the best way likely contains elements of the performance of several workers.

Of course, you may encounter some resistance in your quest. Let’s look at some issues:

Does finding one best way really matter, if everyone is doing fine with their method?

Yes. For lots of reasons. First, to the degree that anyone is not doing the task the best way, waste is being created. Waste should never be tolerated.

Second, if I have one method and all workers are following it, I will be able to respond more efficiently and quickly if a problem occurs. Problem analysis (which we will tackle at some future date) involves identifying “candidate” causes, then working to eliminate them. If I have to sort through 15 methods for clues instead of one, my problem takes longer to solve and costs me more in waste.

Third, if workers are doing what works for them, they may not recognize a step or action that is necessary for a non-product-based result (e.g., safety). Workers may be creating inadvertent hazards that suddenly arise, and workers will almost certainly be unequipped to solve a problem they didn’t know could occur.

Won’t I create hurt feelings for those who see their method replaced?

That depends on the nature (specifically, the culture) of your organization. Do you have a personality-driven, competitive culture, or a culture that prizes process excellence? If you have the former, you may have hurt feelings. More importantly, you have a culture change challenge ahead of you.

If your culture is the latter, you are ahead of the game. In either case, all workers should be part of the process analysis. As an action is pondered, you can educate your workers in considering actions in light of desired outcomes. And allow all workers the chance to discuss why they perform a specific action.

What if workers aren’t willing to go along with the new procedure?

Go back to the process vs. personality focus discussion (cultural factor). Bottom line is that the workplace is not a democracy, and functional workplaces are those where the process is the thing. Workers are generally not allowed to set their hours, or decide what work they will perform. There is no reason they should have any say in how a task is performed, once their input has been factored into the creation of the “new” process (which is really the coalescence of a bunch of old methods into the current-state best way).

About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
This entry was posted in Continuous improvement, Culture change, Instructional Communication, Policy and Procedure Development, Procedures, Training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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