#1. Whenever people in your organization start to discuss a particular problem, issue, or improvement opportunity, ask the following questions:
· What process is responsible for the problem or improvement
· Who owns the process? [be specific]
· Who is the customer of the process? [be specific]
· What is the output of the process?
and most important of all,
· What are the customer's requirements?
For example, if the organization has a discussion on errors in the system regarding customer orders, we must have the discipline to ask the above questions. We might find that we are referring to an Order Entry Process. During the exploration of this issue we might find that this process cuts through several departments, such as Customer Service, Scheduling, Sales, and Purchasing, and that no one person owns the problem. Consequently, we get into much finger-pointing and nothing gets resolved. For every process, there must be one process owner ... one throat to choke!
As we continue to answer the above questions we find that the manufacturing manager [Bill Hard2Find] is the customer of the Order Entry process. After all it is his team that has to fill the order correctly. The output of the Order Entry Process might be a Work Order and a Bill of Materials. The requirements for the Work Orders and Bills of Materials might be that they are complete and accurate 100% of the time.
#2. The very next question people should ask is:
· How big is the problem?
· What is the goal?
Remember, "In God we trust, valid data required by everyone else!" A nonconformance is a requirement not met. If there are no requirements, there cannot be a nonconformance. The requirements are complete and accurate Work Orders and Bills of Materials. So, the next step would be to have the necessary metrics in place to determine how often we receive Work Orders and Bills of Materials into manufacturing that are not complete and/or inaccurate.
Once we have complete, accurate, and reliable data we can now set a goal to improve. This goal can create a sense of urgency and can create a team of people to achieve the desirable outcome. People tend to be goal oriented.
#3. It is now time to ask questions that will eventually empower a team to prevent recurring problems:
· Who are the people that have the most to gain by reducing or eliminating
· What are the process requirements?
· What are the supplier requirements?
· What procedural changes do we need to make to achieve our goal?
[document new process]
Put together a team of people who will systematically attack every aspect of the problem. The process owner or his delegate must be on the team. The process owner and the team will be responsible for implementing the team's solutions.
The team will most likely use Value Stream Mapping to identify the current state, and through brainstorming, develop a future state Value Stream Map.
#4. Once the team has developed an action plan to make the Future State Value Stream Map a reality, the following questions could be used in summarizing their action plan:
· Have we verified that the new process will achieve the goal? [pilot the
· How are we going to communicate procedural changes to those who
need to know that changes are being made? [customers and suppliers
of the specific process]
· Who needs to be trained in the new process?
· How are we going to verify that people are following the new process?
· Can we verify, through measurements, that the new process has
achieved the goal?
Have your team pilot the new process to ensure that the new process is in statistical control and is capable. Be sure to communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. People involved in the process and suppliers and customers to the process need to know what is going on. All people involved in the new process must be trained to ensure conformity. Audit the process to ensure everyone is doing things the same way, on all shifts, in all departments. Then measure again to ensure the goal has been obtained. Then repeat the process in the spirit of continuous improvement.