Systems Thinking Tools: Implementing transformation beneficially

 “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other”

Simon Sinek

One of the main objectives is to assess the “state” of the organization, and then define the approach you believe will be best suited to bring about that change. Different cultures and mindsets require different approaches, so it pays to spend some time assessing the situation before jumping in. No one solution fits all.

Measurement supports strategy, and should be viewed from 2 aspects, firstly it is very important for the business to see a return on its investment and this is quantified by selecting agreed measures and setting up a baseline for measuring improvements. Secondly, these measurements need to be displayed across the business so that teams can see how they are performing against targets. The best place for this is at the physical place of work, and then also in meeting areas. Performance measures must be proudly displayed and targets clearly communicated so that teams understand them and commit to the improvement process.

Teamwork 5

Multiple department focused programs need to be rolled out simultaneously, all connected by the measures so that each department supports the overall goal. In a manufacturing organization for example, planning, production, engineering, warehouse, distribution, QC, QA and HR need to have their own goals with supporting programs that contribute directly to the overall improvement drive. Measures such as equipment availability, performance, schedule adherence, customer service, attendance and training programs with measures of competence levels need to be implemented.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to get too detailed on any of your measures at the roll out, start with the whole or bigger picture, so that implemented programs can show quick wins. Review periods are then set up to drive us to the next step in the improvement process. We don’t change the high-level measures, we rather dissect these into their component parts so that we can get to the next level of “wins”. Machine availability as an example and can be divided into the different sub measures such as minor stoppages, materials availability, breakdowns, machine setting, Services interruptions etc. All of these still sum up to availability.

So, how do we go about this? Its starts with the management and Supervision being exposed to scenarios that highlight the pitfalls of age old practices, and then working towards the goals by discussing and debating ways to improve. This sessions need to be led, with open input from members. Commitment at senior levels is imperative, and members need to become champions that lead their individual teams to success. Several techniques can be used to conduct these sessions, to ensure they are conducive to dialogue and open communication and all ideas must be documented and prioritised to deliver the quick wins earliest. Success breeds success.

Beer game 4One option is to use tried and tested tools to expose teams to common errors, one such is the “Beer Game”, devised by MIT during the 1960’s and which has been used in many forms in various industries and universities over the years.

Tools need to be introduced for the teams to use going forward. These tools are part of the transformation process, allowing people to see their tasks differently and giving them the confidence to try new approaches. The performance measures are always the core that brings every effort into the growth towards a cohesive goal.

To read more about supply chain and operations performance improvement, please follow Dave on LinkedIn and SA Coaching to get the notification of articles as they are published.

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