QCD is out of date – you need CxVAR

For decades now manufacturers have measured their performance in terms of Quality, Cost and Delivery. These days that’s no longer good enough. If you really want to raise your game here are some measures you need to be thinking about:

Cx – Customer Experience. The customer’s total life-time experience of your products, services and brand. Think customer journeys, Net Promoter Score, Fault-Free Years in Service and the like. Talk with them, partner with them, have the difficult conversations, grow old together.

Value-Add. This goes to the heart of what manufacturing is all about – taking a whole load of inputs and resources and turning them into something more valuable. Value-add per employee is a critical measure of productivity. At the plant level, it’s one of the “critical few” measures, and at a national level increasing productivity is the only real way to improve living standards.

Responsiveness. Simply delivering a product “on time” (which date exactly?) doesn’t really cut it. How agile and responsive are you to customer needs? Do you know exactly what’s important to your customer? Can you flex volumes, delivery times and specifications? Do you need to offer guaranteed lead-times, short lead-times or both?

If you’d like an up-to-date, independent review of your KPI’s and objectives, contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com

The Three Stages of Lean Transformation

As our knowledge and practice of Lean has developed, many of us have come to the conclusion that there is no standardised “one size fits all” roadmap or sequence that details every step of “how to implement Lean” for every organisation. But there are three vital stages that it makes sense to follow. Here they are:

1. Grasp the Current Situation. A full understanding – by all team members – of the current situation, is the essential starting point for any improvement activity. Questions to ask might include: Exactly where are we now? What are we trying to do here? What is our purpose, our mission? How do we add value for our customers? Honestly, how are we performing now? Are our measurement systems capable of telling us? Are we collecting (only) the right information to help us to make decisions and to take action?

2. Achieve Stability. What are the most important processes in your business? How do you develop new products or services? How do you deliver them? How do you plan, execute and measure the vital few? How do you manage your people, from cradle to grave? Are these processes capable, under control and stable? How do you sustain “One Best Way”: do you provide clear instruction, effective training, regular monitoring, wide-spread mistake-proofing?

3. Implement Lean. Only now can you begin to change the way you work, with a real prospect of success and sustained improvement. Once you have stable, repeatable processes you can analyse them and find ways to do them better. With the right tools and support the team can simplify and streamline the processes so that you become more efficient and more productive, and achieve better outcomes.

The detail of how to do it – and the exact tools to use – are gained only through years of experience. If you don’t yet have that experience you’ll need to hire it in, but make sure that you coach your people so that they “learn by doing”. By following this approach, and by rigorously following the PDCA Improvement Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), you can genuinely transform your organisation and make Continuous Improvement a way of life.

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Lean – Part 2

Andrew Nicholson
By Andy Nicholson, Managing Director of Nicholson Consultancy

In my previous blog I suggested that many organisations have come to understand that their future success requires the marshalling of Purpose, People and Processes, to deliver value to the organisation, its customers and its stakeholders.

So let’s look at what this actually means in practice:

The purpose of a Lean organisation is to create and deliver real long-term value.

The technical side of this requires a deep understanding of customers and stakeholders and should make clear exactly how, why, when and where value is added.

For the Purpose element to work a common set of values and a vision need to be drawn up that people feel are worthwhile and that they can get behind.

The truly Lean organisation values and develops its people, treats everyone with respect, and demands excellence.

To ensure sustainable continuous improvement requires, what W Edwards Deming, many years ago, described as “Constancy of Purpose” – the discipline of doing the important stuff day after day after day.

When it comes to People, the first and most important step is to get the right people on the bus – people whose values and attitudes fit with those of the organisation.

I’m with the approach of Jack Welch, as CEO of General Electric, on this one – if managers don’t demonstrate those values, they need to be replaced, regardless of how well they “hit the numbers”.

Lean organisations know how to recruit and retain people with the right values, and they are expert at developing each and every employee to their fullest potential.
Such organisations aim to engage people in a greater purpose, they recognise and reward their contribution, and they train and empower them to do the right thing in their own work-flow.

When Henry Ford talked about “the machine that God built” and Jim Womack, Dan Jones, and Dan Roos, wrote “The Machine that Changed the World” they weren’t talking about the motor car itself, they were talking about the process that created the motor car.

From the outset, Ford and Toyota understood that the myriad tasks and activities in a manufacturing plant should work together smoothly and effectively like a well-oiled machine.

Lean organisations are obsessed with their value streams – the essential value-adding tasks by which they create and deliver value.

They actively manage their extended value streams – their supply chains – by partnering and working with their suppliers and customers.

All the time, their people are working to understand “exactly how is value added, how do we cut out the waste, how do we link the pieces together and improve flow?” Put simply, good processes deliver good results.

Last, but not least, pulling all of this together requires the right leadership – leaders who have the right values, who are passionate about Lean and who are in it for the long haul: the sort of people who work very hard to make things very simple.

Do we all have to fail before we can succeed?

The value of going Lean is easy to quantify: in forensically examining a firm that is experiencing problems, Lean experts can identify what is going wrong and suggest solutions for the workforce to put in place.

But what if it is a new company, that doesn’t yet need a solution?

At a recent summit from the Lean Enterprise Academy, Lean guru Jim Womack summed it up like this: “Is it possible for an organisation to start up Lean from Day One, or must an organisation grow until it becomes inefficient, and only then learn from its mistakes?”

This challenge helps us re-examine the Lean principles we use every day at Nicholson Consultancy and realise their value as independent tactics that are transferrable to a number of situations.

We might think that the simple answer is to learn from other people’s mistakes, but current thinking is that Lean is situational – we can transfer the skills, but we need to tailor our approach for each organisation and each unique set of circumstances.

The question of where Lean fits into a business strategy mirrors various conversations I’ve had recently with friends and colleagues who are business owners and entrepreneurs.

We’ve all made many mistakes over the years and most of us would like to think that we wouldn’t repeat them. But how do you get it right until you’ve had the experience of trying it and getting it wrong?

The challenge is to create a business that is Right First Time – and having done that to keep it on track so that it never needs major work. Of course, there will always be improvements to be made because the manufacturing landscape changes so often, but an appreciation of Lean strategies can be a solid foundation to build on.

This is an interesting approach that many Lean practitioners and their potential clients will have missed out on. Let’s get the message across that Lean is not only a repair option, it can also be one of the first things on the list when a new business is being planned.

Maybe we don’t have all the answers and maybe we can’t get everything perfectly right from Day One, but surely there’s more than enough experience and accumulated knowledge out there now to at least aim for “More Right than Wrong, Most of the Time!”

Not the snappiest of slogans, but maybe it’s what we should be aiming for.

Business Growth Service (England)

On Friday 5 December, the UK Government announced the launch of the Business Growth Service which integrates the existing GrowthAccelerator and Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) programmes, along with the Intellectual Property Office Intellectual Property (IP) Audits and the Design Council Design Mentoring.

The Business Growth Service will make it easier for businesses with the potential, capability and capacity to improve and grow to access expert advice and support. Depending on the support they need, businesses will also be introduced by the Business Growth Service to experts from other Government services including UK Trade & Investment, UK Enterprise Fund, Innovate UK and local growth hubs.

Further details will be announced in the next few days but the following are important changes to names, brands and websites:

1. Introduction of new name and brand: Today the Government will make a formal announcement about our new brand name and look. As we move towards the full transition in April next year, this new brand will be used alongside our old brands in our marketing collateral. Next week you will receive further guidance about available marketing collateral.

2. New website address: As of today both the MAS and GrowthAccelerator websites have closed. The new website homepage is www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/businessgrowthservice and individual services have been relocated to www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/ga and www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/mas

Sheffield Forgemasters SC21 Manufacturing Excellence Assessment

“Audit” and “Enjoyment” are two words you don’t often see together but that’s how it’s been this week as Sheffield Forgemasters http://www.sheffieldforgemasters.com/ undertook a rigorous three-day SC21 Manufacturing Excellence Assessment with six auditors, overseen by four observers / mentors from BAE and Rolls-Royce. Great example of Supply Chain collaboration and delighted to see recognition for all of the hard work by everyone at Forgemasters. Thanks also for some great input, advice and coaching by the folk from BAE and Rolls-Royce. Everyone now looking forward to the next one! https://www.adsgroup.org.uk/pages/91430300.asp

Sheffield Forgemasters video (HR Media)

Using Lean to Drive Sales Growth: Value-Driven Manufacturing

“This is Lean Heineken – it refreshes the parts of the business that other Lean doesn’t reach!”

You probably use Lean to cut costs and increase productivity, but are you using it to Drive Sales Growth?

A few weeks ago I ran a half-day Value-Add Workshop with the owners and directors of a medium-sized manufacturing group. I revisited them last week to follow up, and found that they’ve identified 203 new business opportunities, of which 46 are high potential.

OK, they’re more diversified than most companies of their size but just take a moment to reflect on that. Forty-six high potential opportunities to generate new business.

If you could generate just a fraction of those opportunities in your business, how much more sales could you generate?

It’s another wake-up call for all maufacturers out there: get on board with Value-Driven Manufacturing now, and discover the real benefits of Lean – before your competitors do!      www.ValueDrivenBusiness.co.uk

Value-Driven Manufacturing in Action at James Heal

Works Management magazine hosted a superb best-practice factory visit last week to our award-winning client James Heal, based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, UK: The visit presented an excellent opportunity for delegates to see first-hand exactly how Value-Driven Manufacturing can transform a company, despite the economic down-turn.

James Heal is a highly successful UK precision testing instruments manufacturer delivering outstanding growth, employment and export. Sales have increased by over 50% in the last two years with a significant increase in revenues from new product development and innovation, whilst product costs have been reduced by up to 25%. This success is a direct result of the lean manufacturing programme, innovative product design and a “can-do” culture. 

Visitors took part in an interactive workshop – Value-Driven Manufacturing – facilitated by Manufacturing Consultant Andrew Nicholson, where they learned how to apply the principles of Value-Driven Manufacturing “back at the ranch”.

Watch this space for the forthcoming Visit Report, Case Study and Learning Points!

Better still, sign up below to this blog and never miss any future posts!

For more information about Value-Driven Manufacturing, have a look at the blog posts here or visit the website ImproveMyFactory.com – Value-Driven Manufacturing – where you can download a free guide to Value-Driven Business.

Beyond Lean Manufacturing: Value-Driven Business

For many manufacturers – particularly those well advanced on their Lean Manufacturing journey – the burning question now is: “So what do we do next?”

Manufacturers have been applying “Lean” techniques across their production operations for many years now. Most of them have reduced their costs, most of them have increased their productivity, many of them have engaged their employees and some of them have sustained a culture of Continuous Improvement (CI). So far, so good. But what do you do next?

You’ve streamlined your manufacturing operations, you’ve created a good CI system, most employees are actively engaged, Lean has become part of the day job, and you’re confident that improvement activities will be sustained.

You know that Lean Thinking works, you know that it’s a journey not a destination, and you’re wise enough to steer clear of the latest “management initiative” (fad).

So what do you do next?

To answer that question, let me offer you three “next steps” to consider:

  1. Apply Lean Thinking across all areas of the organisation, not just in Production or Operations. Train all employees (and I do mean all!) to understand the basic concept of “Lean” and how to apply it in their areas of the business. They’ll need a different approach – and some different tools and techniques – from “Lean Manufacturing” but the tools are there if you know where to find them. And the opportunities for improvement are usually much greater than in Production or Operations. Have a good look – you’ll be amazed at what you find! Some of our “World Class” clients have found rework levels of more than 90% in their “back office” and support functions – it’s not uncommon.
  2. Work on the entire Value Stream / Demand Chain. Extend beyond Operations to cover all stages of the order fulfilment process (from “Quote to Cash”). Once you’ve done that inside your own business, extend outwards to include your suppliers, customers, agents, distributors, and end-users. If you can create your own unique Value Chain (even if none of the components are unique) then you can create a very valuable business. Some of our clients have created a unique competitive advantage for themselves by doing exactly that.
  3. Focus on the “Value-Add” side of Lean – the part that most people ignore! Look for opportunities to add more value for your customers. See where you can “in-source” or “back-shore” your operations, and find out if you can do some of the things that your suppliers and customers currently do. Some of our clients have increased their turnover by more than 50% in less than a year by doing exactly that.

The three steps that I’ve just outlined are part of a much broader approach to business improvement, called Value-Driven Business. When it’s applied to manufacturing businesses – which is mainly what this blog is about – it’s called Value-Driven Manufacturing. You can find other blog posts about Value-Driven Manufacturing here on the Manufacturing Times blog (helpfully categorised under “Value-Driven Manufacturing”!), and you can find out more about Value-Driven Business at www.ValueDrivenBusiness. co.uk. There’s enough there to take you well beyond Lean Manufacturing!

World Class Manufacturing Leadership

World Class businesses have world class leaders. So what does it take to lead a successful World Class manufacturing business in 2012? Here’s my view…

The leaders of World class manufacturers are highly driven; they need to be the best in the world at what they do. They have high expectations, they create a strong sense of urgency and they inspire the right people to join them on the journey.

They understand that you don’t have to invent anything new and different in order to be world class. What you have to do is configure a value chain that delivers unique value in a different way.

Here are some of the things that they do:

Purpose: they communicate the purpose of the organisation in a way that is meaningful

Performance: they inspire people to perform at their best and they do not tolerate mediocrity

Passion: they are personally invested in what they do – they get fired up and it’s contagious

Process: they create streamlined processes that deliver outstanding and unique value to their customers

People: they get the right people on the bus; they expect to make some people unhappy

These are just some of my own thoughts – what are yours?…