Traditionally, the New Year period has been a time for reassessment and for setting new and ambitious goals for the coming year. So, have you set any ambitious goals for improvement in your enterprise and / or your supply chain?
The best laid plans of mice and men…
Despite our best intentions, both hard research and anecdotal evidence tell us that more than 90 percent of our improvement goals are never achieved. So, it is likely that next year—about this same time—you will be setting some of the very same goals you are contemplating even as you read this today.
Of course, if you are like me—and I suspect that at least some of you are—from a personal perspective, you have failed so many times to follow through on so-called “New Year’s Resolutions,” that you don’t even bother to make them any longer. Or, if you make them, you make them only half-heartedly.
But, what about your business and your supply chain?
Can you really afford to just give up on ever seeing significant, long-lasting improvement to your operations?
Do you really feel that you have no alternative but to surrender to forces beyond your reach to affect or beyond your power to, perhaps, even fully comprehend? Do you really believe that your business is in the hands of fate, and the best you can do is keep up the valiant effort to “survive”?
I hope not!
Your most precious resources
As a manager or executive, your most precious resources are TIME, ENERGY and ATTENTION.
If you are like a good many managers and executives we meet on a regular basis, far more than half your TIME, ENERGY and ATTENTIONS are presently consumed in the day-to-day efforts required to put out fires. Only the “left-over” time, energy and attention can be applied to even thinking about improvement.
Then, of course, there remains the fact that it seems like you’ve already tried all the things that should help you improve, gain fresh traction in your market, and improve the bottom line. But, the efforts frequently seem to be in vain. Improvements are generally small—despite huge efforts, at times—and they are almost never long-lasting. It seems as though all of your precious TIME, ENERGY and ATTENTIONS are consumed for little or no gain—even when you try to focus on improvement.
Nevertheless, you faithfully get out of your bed every morning and come into your office to put forth another valiant effort against your unseen and, seemingly, incomprehensible foe.
Three most basic questions
There are only three things that every manager and executive need to know. Yet, despite your years of experience, your training, your intelligence, your keen staff, you seem unable to narrow down the precise answers to these questions in order to achieve long-lasting and ongoing improvement:
- What needs to change so that we can make more money tomorrow than we are making today?
- What should the change look like in order to be effective?
- How do we go about making this change in our organization or supply chain?
It turns out, there is a tool set to help you and your management team quickly answer these basic—and, essential—questions. That tool set is called the Theory of Constraints’ Thinking Processes. These tools help you and your team take five critical steps toward achieving long-lasting improvements and increasing profits. Those five steps are these:
- Clarify your GOAL and decide what needs to improve. Equally important for focus is to be very clear on what not to improve—what not to spend your time, energy and attentions on.
- List and logically validate all of the what, how and why assumptions about your GOAL and what needs to improve. Here the Thinking Processes help lay out these validations in a logic-based format with boundaries that help eliminate bad thinking and company politics.
- Develop an ambitious plan for change that includes buffers and clear metrics. The buffers are to allow for “Murphy,” who is bound to show up sometime, and the metrics help assure that your underlying assumptions were and are correct as you move forward in your improvement process.
- Begin implementing one step at a time. This is the essence of “focus.” Don’t diffuse your focus by trying to make too many changes at the same time.
- Review progress frequently for rapid feedback, resolve conflicts as they arise, and go back to step 1 after a cycle to that inertia doesn’t set in. Returning to step 1 makes this a POOGI—a process of on-going improvement—not just a one-time event.
If you need help getting started, let us know. Let's git ‘er done!
Also, leave your comments below about how you and your company stay on track producing sustainable and effective improvements in your operations and supply chain. We look forward to hearing from you.