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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Measuring and Taking Action

Lean Nation,

Deep sigh.....There is much work to be done. This blog begins with a story. A true story at that. One of my peers has a client that has been struggling with creating oversight for their improvements. Their current set-up is a scattering of open and closed A-3's around an accountability matrix on a wall. I am working from the assumption that everyone knows what an A3 is.

Technically, A3 is a paper size; 11" by 17". It is the largest sheet of paper that can be faxed. More specifically, Wikipedia defines the A3 as follows. "A structured problem solving and continuous improvement approach, first employed at Toyota, and typically used by lean practitioners."

So consistent with a theme that I have blogged on repeatedly, all improvements should link to the organizational strategy. This organization was trying to show their strategic intent of their lean work (through A3's posted on the wall) aligned to their key measures. This organization had sound strategic pillars, People, Quality, Access              ( Delivery), and Value ( Cost). Their outcome measures were solid as well. 

The problem was the action taken to drive the outcomes measures was lacking. In an attempt to create a sense of urgency, this consultant created some trend charts of the key measures to show lack of both action and results.  

The response from the Senior Leader was “nothing new here, We look at this every month”. I explained they we could go beyond looking at it every month and start using the data to identify priority improvements, accountability……….His response was that their organization is getting away from using metrics "like this" because people just game the numbers.

In simplest terms, if you can't measure it, you can't improvement it.  When the senior leader of the organization (by the way this is an $800,000 enterprise with 6 sites) doesn't want to measure key outcomes,  lean improvement is going to be tough sledding.

We have much work to do in educating leadership.  

Lean Blessings,


Ron Bercaw

President and Sensei
Breakthrough Horizons Ltd.
2 time Shingo award winning author

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