Continuous Improvement Part 2: It Starts with the Customer
For Continuous Improvement to be effective and sustainable, it requires a systems approach involving the entire organization. Management should guide the organization in four fundamental areas to ensure success:
1. Purpose – maximizing customer value 2. Process – continually improving speed and defects for factory and office 3. People – involving people in improving the process, providing knowledge and tools 4. Sustainable culture – encouraging change, communicating success and results
The purpose of Continuous Improvement is to maximize customer value, by understanding and solving the customer’s needs and problems. Watch this clip from Lean expert Jim Womack:
“It’s about solving customer problems with fewer resources, solving more customer problems, growing the business …” — Jim Womack.
But, how can we know our customer’s needs and problems? One approach is to track customer complaints and dissatisfaction. Although this approach may give a short term impact, the absence of complaints or problems does not necessarily mean the customer is satisfied. Another shortcoming of this approach is that it is reactive and action is not taken until after the problems occur.
To understand the customer’s true needs and wants, it is important to proactively listen, identify alternatives, implement solutions and receive feedback on the solution from the customer. Several ways to listen proactively for the “voice of the customer” (VOC) are shown below.
1. Survey customers – Surveys are effective at capturing quantitative data on problem or need and are relatively easy to conduct. But, surveys are not as good at capturing qualitative information or analyzing and identifying solutions. Open-ended text responses on surveys can give a better indication than ratings alone.
2. Talk regularly with key customers – Two-way discussions can provide an opportunity to understand problems, explore solutions and solve problems important to the customer. Elements for success include involving the right staff on the team, documentation and follow-up.
3. Visit key customers – Face-to-face visits and interaction with the customer can be very effective and help to build a deeper relationship. Customer visits provide an opportunity to see firsthand how the product/service is used and what problems the customer is experiencing. This collaboration makes it possible to develop a joint plan to identify and address the customer’s future needs and new product opportunities. Detailed pre-planning and documented follow-up are keys to success.
One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. The order may change but the top cited standards typically don’t change. Top 10 Sited Safety and Health Violations: 501 - Fall Protection 1200 - Hazard Communication 451 - Scaffolding 134 - Respiratory Protection 147 - Lockout/Tagout 178 - Powered Industrial Trucks 1053 - Ladders 305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods 212 - Machine Guarding 303 - Electrical, General Requirements Three of the 10 sited standards are directed at the construction standard (1926) while other fall within the general industry (1910). It should be noted however that the general industry standard also has fall protection guidelines. Year after year, inspectors see the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury. More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured. By understanding these regulations you can improve your safety program and prevent injuries. Give me a call if you have any compliance doubts, or want to review OHSA regulations. Gwido Dlugopolsky at 216-391-7766 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Why does it take a NASCAR pit crew only 15 seconds to change four car tires when it takes people like you and me minutes? The answer is simple SMED. Single Minute Exchange of Dies, or SMED, is a process for reducing the time it takes to do equipment changeovers. Using the principles of SMED you should be able to perform any changeover in your facility in under 10 minutes! The SMED process is simple – convert as many changeover steps as possible to “external”, meaning they are done while your equipment is still RUNNING, while simplifying and streamlining the remaining steps. SMED is broken down into the following 3 Steps: Separate Convert Streamline We found this article to be very helping in explaining the SMED process in more detail: LEAN PRODUCTION - SMED A good first step to achieve this level of SMED efficiency would be to run a kaizen event at your facility to standardize (5S) your tools and supplies. Doing this alone will help you achieve 40% to 50% greater efficiency. Once the “low hanging fruit” is gone, you can still reduce setup times another 20% by practicing more advanced SMED principles.
The secret to closing any sale is to reduce uncertainty in the buyer and replace it with confidence in YOU, your PRODUCT/SERVICE, and your COMPANY. Step 1 – Confidence in YOU Someone buying from you wants to be able to fundamentally connect with you on a human level and feel confident that you’re an expert in what you’re selling If you’re selling paperclips, be an expert in paperclips If you’re selling design and engineering related services, be an expert in design and engineering related services Focus on addressing the problem, not the solution….MEANING you already know you have the solution, connect with the buyer by being an expert with the problem he/she is facing. Prove that you know the problem and all aspects of the problem like the back of your hand. Step 2- Confidence in the PRODUCT/SERVICE you are selling Someone buying from you needs to trust the product/service you are selling will solve their problem. It’s your responsibility to deliver a solution and the benefits associated with it. Basically you need to “Hit a Homerun” communicating this message. Tip – Use Success Stories: Share with the potential buyer examples of your product/service solving problems and delivering value for