Going Beyond to GOAL-3P

Lean dates back some 100 years starting from production of the Ford Model T. During the production, Henry Ford introduced the conveyor belt which significantly reduced waste to create each unit in just 93 mins. Some years later, Motorola’s roll out of the Six Sigma approach in the 80’s reached for 3.4 defects per million.

Today,  some companies have already invested huge sums of money in lean and have only just seen a fraction of the benefits come through. Why?

Over the last few months, we have been spending time discussing with our clients about lean and  specifically their needs. We have interacted with more than 50 different companies and we are now in a stronger position to better serve them. 

Lean Projects despite the investment and roll out are still failing. There a number of reasons for this like: no leadership, no data, focusing on tools not mindset, resolving symptoms not root causes etc.

Today, we are introducing a new offering to the Kenyan market that we are calling:

Goal -3P is a part of our consulting offering that goes beyond the standard quality, cost and lead time related issues. It focuses more on Process, People and Performance.

Why is it important to focus on these three elements?

Process: Understanding your company’s processes allows you to identify the vulnerabilities in the business. Where are your bottlenecks and where can you start to remove inefficiencies? Good processes are also important to ensure continuity of the organisation especially if you are aiming to be around in the next 100 years.

People: Linked to the processes, many growing organisations still don’t know who is doing what and when. And when issues arise they all get escalated right to the top. There have been many situations where there is a lack of accountability for the process and  the decisions made. For growing companies, it is therefore important to define reporting lines and the responsibilities for each employee.

Performance: How do you know you are doing well in your business? Very few companies in Kenya actually set KPIs to help make decisions and drive the business in the strategic direction. Planning is also important in maximising your profits. We have seen many companies run on short term planning unable to capitalise from long term deals.

Delta Blade Consultants has now specialists from each field, allowing us to come in and provide companies with a one-stop solution.

Why choose to work with us? We provide cost effective solutions and expertise catered to your business.

Is this of interest to you? Get in contact with us to understand more of what we can do for your organisation.  Send us an email: info@deltablade.co.uk



Riding the Wave

This articles focuses on implementing four major changes to your organisation in order to enjoy long term growth.

Improve Accountability by Setting Proper Reporting Lines

An important element in a company when it begins to see growth prospects is transitioning the decision making from the founder to the relevant function heads.  With this transition, comes an element of delegation and trust.  It also allows people to take accountability of the decisions they make. In order to do this, an organisation must structure itself with the correct reporting lines.

In successful organisations, structure is given by dividing the organisations into different functions i.e. marketing, operations, sales, human resources, R&D etc. Depending on the size of the company the greater the number of different functions. Each function needs to be driven by a capable person. He/She will be accountable for the performance both within the function and the company as an entity. This is usually done by setting the right key performance indicators against a set of possible results.

For example, KPI: Profitability and the result is PBDIT of $100,000 after Year 1.

Driving the Strategy within the Organisation

An organisation’s strategy is realised by setting strategic goals and targets to ensure sustainable competitive advantage over the long term. Many companies which are beginning to see high growth patterns need to analyse both micro and macro business environment trends. Micro-environment being factors that you can influence: production, distribution, operations etc. Macro-environment being the factors that you cannot influence i.e. demographics, competition,  social factors etc. By aligning the two environment trends, an organisation can create it’s strategy.

Driving the strategic goals in each business process allows them to be attained effectively. It also allows the company staff to align their daily work to these goals. A good lean tool that uses strategic business objectives to drive improvement is lean routines or KATA. These improvement routines can be implemented by:

  1. Identifying the Current Situation
  2. Determining the future state and
  3. Carrying out a series of experiments to reach the future state.

Below is an example of Coaching Cycle Demonstration

Restructuring Processes to be Lean and Efficient

Lean implementation allows you to view and improve processes by breaking them down into smaller steps. It allows a real change in mindset using a few very simple tools like quality in station, gold standard, KANBAN production, work levelling etc, to really drive continuous improvement.

A great example of Lean Implementation is given below:

Setting Priorities and End-to-end Thinking

This is one of the most important aspects to consider when encountering growth in the organisation. End-to-end thinking means that all decisions are based on a collective benefit to the company. For instance, if a company defines the priority to be profitability, then profitability must be viewed across the value chain from the supplier to customer.

In many organisation with an annual threshold turnover of $1 million, tend to have different functions with profit and loss accountability. Each function will compete to have the highest profitability. But this would end up over-pricing the product effectively becoming less competitive.

Setting priorities is also key to growth. Defining the priority and making sure every decision/task is aligned to this will ensure growth.  A great example is the return of Steve Jobs to Apple in 1997 to save the company. At the time, Apple was creating a large range of computers. The priorities in the company were not defined or focused.  By drawing a two by two matrix, he labelled the  columns ‘consumer’ and ‘pro.’ And the rows he labelled ‘desktop’ and ‘portable.’ His aim was to focus the team on creating a great product for each quadrant. You can read more about it here.

Implementing these simple points in your business are valuable growth enablers. Define your growth strategy: restructure, redefine and prioritise your organisation and be set for long term growth.

For more information or if you would like to continue this conversation, please reach out to us at info@deltablade.co.uk


Right Tools for the Job

This article focuses on training your organisation to have the right tools to do the job. I will discuss three important points on why managers and supervisors need to be equipped with the right tools to deal with problems in the production space.

Providing the right tools allows problems to be resolved quickly and correctly.

When your business is faced with operational or production problems, your team, especially managers and supervisors, need to be equipped with the right tools. Having to rely on senior leaders within the organisation to solve every single problem becomes difficult and painstaking.

To resolve this, companies must ensure that managers have the right tools to break down the problem, understand root causes and look at solutions in a systematic way.

It’s difficult to eat a whole cow, but if its cut into small pieces, it can easily be digested.

Lean methodology provides two excellent tools. A root cause analysis coupled with a value stream map allows you to break down the problem and understand what is driving this undesired output.

Tools get continuously used and mastered

If you have provided the right tools for the job, the management team will begin to use them repeatedly. This builds confidence in the tools. The more they use them the more ingrained they become and vice versa. Subsequently, the rest of the organisation gains confidence in the managers’ ability. Perfected tools become the norm in companies and get further introduced to  joiners or employees taking up new positions.

A simple example is the use of lean tools in big companies like Toyota, GE, Motorola etc. Streamlining the production process using Work Levelling or Heijunka, allows the production to meet demand while reducing waste.

Today, many companies have mastered these tools, making training a basic requirement for majority of roles.

Adaption of tools for various jobs

Once the tools are mastered, it is now possible to understand both the real advantages and disadvantages of each tool.  When challenged with different problems, the management team can now see when and where to adapt the various tools. Problems now have a flow chart to which they can be resolved: understand the problem, eliminate the root cause and finally implement ways to sustain the solution.

Today, lean tools are implemented across different industries. For example the health sector has taken on lean tools to improve patient treatment time and reduce health costs.

Training and workshops in Lean and Six Sigma tools are valuable tools to provide your organisation to resolve production problems. Whether you are facing stock outs, revenue loss, high inventory or even bottlenecks in your supply chain, lean tools can break down and resolve problems. Investing in coaching sessions, training and workshops will over time reap rewards and allow senior leaders like CEOs and Managing Directors to focus on more important issues.

For more information or if you would like to continue this conversation, please reach out to us at info@deltablade.co.uk

Know Your Customer

Companies that implement LEAN work cooperatively with their customer to deliver high levels of value. To do this it is important to build a close relationship with the end user or recipient of your product or service. These relationships allow the business to understand and deliver the attributes/ requirements needed to meet customer expectations.

Implementing lean tools and techniques ensures that you manufacture what the customer exactly wants, in the quantity they seek and delivering when the customer wants it using the minimum resources.

A great lean tool or template to use when determining the customer requirements is the voice of the customer (VOC). The “VOC” is the term used to describe the stated and unstated needs or requirements of the customer. (isixsigma.com) Templates to capture the voice of the customer vary from lists, specification requirements, surveys, focus groups etc. This is an essential step to ensure that whatever lean project you embark on, it remains focused and more importantly relevant to the customer.

The mistake sometimes made is assuming what the customer wants but ends up being a real failure. At the end of the day it really is about engaging with the customer and sometimes even becoming a customer to better understand the needs.

Here are some is the different methods of researching the VOC (Opex Resources):

1.      Customer satisfaction surveys: What areas are doing well and what is not going well.

2.      Engaging your customer directly through dialogue: what does you customer consider important and how can we serve them to make things go easier?

3.      Setup a complaints route through customer service desk or your website: what does you customer consider as a defect or poor service?

4.      Act like a customer: buy your own product through your team. See what it feels like, is there anything you can improve?

For more information, please contact us at info@deltablade.co.uk

Why Quality Matters?

In this article I will discuss the importance of quality of a product or service and the effects of poor quality.

From a customer perspective, the person who pays for a product or service expects in return to receive satisfaction for the cash exchanged. This could be anything from aesthetical appeal, usability, durability or plainly “just doing what it says on the can.”

People, myself included, enjoy using well made products and gladly pay the price to have them. Improving the customer experience also allows a continuity of sales and consequently growth of the business.

In highly competitive industries, quality is one of the vehicles to ensure that the product/services can offer a sustainable competitive advantage. Global imports can easily flood the market exposing the local businesses to additional competition. This drives prices lower so as to compete with the bigger foreign brands.

Travelling upstream from the customer to the supplier, quality is important at every stage. Direct customers along the value chain must ensure that they receive the expected quality. If not, defects can travel downstream and reach the end user. When exposed to alternatives, the end user may decide not to choose for the product/service.

Other costs from returns and refunds from customers don’t improve bottom lines and could impact profit margins. In the long term costs due to bad reputation can end up killing the business.

Simple tools like quality in station, gold standards and standardised procedures borrowed from LEAN can be implemented to reduce defects arriving at the customer. It is important for companies experiencing signs of poor quality either from their suppliers or their processes must take action now rather than wait for troubling times.