Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Standardized Work was marked as the answer
Standardized Work is a method that was established by TOYOTA as one of the key mechanism of the Just-In- Time production system. It is a methodical approach to determine and document the work element sequence and process for any operation. The objective is to have a detailed “readily available” communication for the operator/worker to know how the job should be performed for best results consistently. A good amount of effort is put in to define a comprehensive flow of the standardized work to ensure that every operator/worker executes tasks by following the defined set of rules and processes. This helps to improve the speed of the process, reduce error, wastes & risks and also simplifies problem- solving, if any. The concept of “Kata” is best realized when there is standardized work.
The method that TOYOTA established for their production unit, consisted of Three Elements;
- Takt Time
- Working Sequence
- Standard In- Process Stock
This was used in all workplace as a the documented “Standardized Work Chart”. The sample template of the Standardized work chart is available on net. ( https://econoshift.com/en/standardized-work-chart-2/)
Most matured organizations follow a customized chart, which is appropriate for their type of business
The standardized Work Chart indicates the operator movement/script and material location with the application of the 5S concept, in relation to the machine /Equipment used in the operation and overall process layout.
How to implement the Standardized work?
1) Identify and define the most efficient and effective practices and the time required for each task/process to the right level of detail.
2) Documenting the above with text and images wherever possible and relevant
3) Keeping the said document available at the GEMBA.
To get the above executed a Gemba walk helps to denote the as is process, understand the value stream and the problems and scope for improvement and follow the steps in order:
1) Determine on working Lean- Focus and prioritize
2) Develop the best – known way of working to meet objective of standardized work
3) Visualize the Standard
4) Communicate and train – The new standard needs to be propagated
5) Schedule follow ups on adherence and performance
6) Introduce a process for improvement
A very commonly experienced and observable standardized work is seen at the order taking/service counters of the MNC Fast food chains. You will notice all the 3 elements.
- The work place is arranged systematically (5S concept) for easy and quick access for required materials like trays, glasses lids straws etc. Least Movement for the Worker
- The queue management is organized for the convenience of the customers and the order taker as well
- The order takers follow defined steps / Working Sequence to take the orders-
Smile and greet the customer
set the process on a pleasant note
Listen to the customer's order
understand the customer's need
Upsell/Cross Sell - Recommend relevant Promotions
Derive better wallet share
Repeat and Confirm Order
avoid any error/ Cancellation/ wastage
Transaction of payment
as per defined process to avoid short changing or any scope of less payment
provide the estimate waiting time for the order
keeps the customer informed about waiting time to avoid any anxiety of waiting
present the order over the counter
confirms that the customer has got the complete order
Thank the customer for business and request for repeat business
Makes the customer feel special and wanted
During this whole transaction, you will notice that there is a level of consistency or uniformity, followed by all the order takers at the counter, to most of the practices or operations in the given environment. In the matured organizations with chains of such operation centers (Outlets), you will notice that the operating environment is also similar in all the outlets.
The said process is documented and kept handy for training and audits and reviews. The process is also timed in different day parts to arrive at the Takt Time
There are regular reviews of this process done by the managers of the outlets to study the efficiency and effectiveness of the process and also the training impact on the individuals. These checkpoints also help to review the process for improvement and more value. For example, the waiting time of the customer can be made more relaxing by providing free samples of new products, the menu boards can be made more interactive and educative through running videos.
The Benefits of Standardization when used in processes for Manufacturing and Service
- Reduce wastages – reduce cost
- Improve Speed
- Improves the Management and design
- Encourages innovation and improvement as it provides structured methods and reliable data that saves time in innovation process
- Makes it Easier to train staff across different locations as the practice remains same
- Helps to replicate and expand
- Performance measurement also becomes easy- easier to motivate personnel
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) is one of the global examples of standardization, to which all companies listed on US stock exchange must adhere to. The benefits are definitely evident!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Service Recovery Paradox was marked as the answer
It is indeed a common belief that recovering a customer after delivering a poor experience results in better loyalty than, if the customer is provided a perfect experience the first time. This concept is called The Service Recovery Paradox(SRP). I strongly believe is only an assumption. I do not believe that in these modern times customers appreciate any imperfection. They spend money very wisely and choose a brand/company, out of many other options, based on the perceived value.
Gone are those days when customers would appreciate the post-sale services to “correct things” and bond better with the company as long term loyal customers.
In earlier days this concept would provide some comfort to the companies which made a lot of errors/ defects in the product and were happy to spend an extra cost to “Recover” customers. The concept gained a somewhat acceptance because there were some researches that did show that an element of correctness existed in the claims of the concept SRP. However, the crux of many studies showed that SRP is most likely when the error/defect is not deemed severe by the customer and has had No previous concerns with the organisation. In this situation, the customer feels that this is an exception and an uncontrollable situation and the company may have had some rare deviation from normal process and also the defect is not so severe. Hence the customer is okay to “give another chance”- Recovered customer!! In fact, this is also what the customer recovery team is supposed to convince a customer to do, many a times with an incentive as a token of appreciation (Discount/Refund/benefit on next purchase/ vouchers) for being so “Cooperative” and “Loyal”.
In my personal experience in products of immediate consumption or allied functions, I know that majority of the customers do not complain about the inconvenience as they feel "managing" the situation is better than to take an effort for correction. They do not give a repeat chance for some time, as they order from some other place and talk about their bad experience with their circle of contacts and very recently the online medium is used widely to vent out dissatisfaction and frustration …. The damage is beyond the reckoning of the food outlet, but may have been controlled if the product/ service was provided right the first time. I have seen that even in situations where the SRP may be deemed successful, wherein the customer has “Forgiven” the defect on record, the customer actually coming back is lesser times than the customer shifting loyalty for at least some time.
In my experience in food industry, where the life of the product is not for long and there are many other options in rampant, the service recovery mechanism;
- Satisfies the customer at that point of time, as the immediate need is met, but does not guarantee revisit intentions
- Does not avert the sour experience from being shared more in detail than the recovery effort, which causes negative word of mouth recommendation.
- Does not guarantee that the Brand image remains intact and does not get hit negatively
- Incurs cost – either directly or indirectly
It is also seen that the same customer may return after some time after trying other options, but will recheck for the defect experienced earlier- the faith/trust is reduced, The positive or encouraging factor in the above points is that the customer is satisfied that his concern is taken care of, which is actually a trailing measure of performance
It is right to believe that a very strong and focussed approach is required to retain a customer, - Difficult task with less chances of success and almost all the time, an attached undesired cost!! A good example is the case study of the recent recovery efforts by the United Airlines. The margin for error in a service recovery process is very low as even very large scale recovery efforts eat into the trust and reduce the loyalty- there are times that the recovery process may also disturb the customer. The customer feels that there is a need to try other available options. The concept of loyalty shift cycle applies, most of the times, and the customer does come back but a considerable damage is done already.
It is in fact easier to focus on creating experience which are convenient and enjoyable for the customer while meeting their need. The focus and spend should rather be on developing processes and systems to get the product/ service right the first time, consistently. That is the most dependable and sustained method to earn customer trust and loyalty and also recommendations. Efforts on QA systems and standards and training yield long term and effective results for sure.
As a matter of fact, it is notable that in their profiles, the top ranking companies in the world boast of their services which are right the first time and lay very less emphasis on their post sales services or retention programme
Having said that, it is not advised that organizations should not try to recover a customer in case of a defective delivery. But it is definitely advised that the company should not hope that such recovery activities will increase the lifetime value of a customer or improve their inclination to ask for the service /product again in the near future. I strongly believe that the SRP is a debatable myth!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Neural Networks was marked as the answer
A Neural Network is sequence of mathematical and logical algorithms that work in tandem to identify the core link or connection in a set of data (input) through a process that follows the working of the human brain.
We know from various researches on how the various “Sensory” or “receptor” centers in the human brain are connected through a network of neurons that react to any stimuli/information from the “5 Senses”. These neurons then link through a network to draw up various permutations and combinations that can be derived from the information, based on the experience or training that these receptors have derived from the live world. The network follows a process or set of “learned” rules for calculation or for any other problem solving Operation. This is also known as algorithm.
Similarly as an analogy, a neural network is made up of many perceptron neurons, in layers, based on the “training” received. The said layers are also called hidden layers which are the primary unit that works together to form the Perceptron layer. These neurons are the ones which receive information or various forms of data, in sets of inputs. These inputs are combined with a bias and a group of weights which produces a single output, which can be a built up / calculated perception.
For this process of computation, each neuron considers assigned weights and bias. Then the “defined “combinations functions, across the network, uses the weight and the bias to give the output (perception) through the following equation:
Combination = bias + Wights * inputs
Post this, the activation functions produces the final output with the following equation:
Thus the process flow can be briefly put forth as ;
1) Information/ data is fed into the input layer and then transferred to the hidden layer(s)
2) The interconnection between the said 2 layers assign weights to each input randomly
3) A bias added to each input after the weights are multiplied with them individually
4) The calculated sum is transferred to the activation function
5) Which nodes it should fire for feature extraction is determined by the activation function.
6) An application function is applied by the model to the output layer, to provide the output.
7) Weights are adjusted and the output is back propagated to minimize the error.
Thus the final output is close to accurate if not accurate. It all depends on the incorporated “training”.
The accuracy of the output (perception) can be improved by
- Increasing Hidden layers
- Change the logic of activation function
- Change the logic of activation function in the output layer
- Increase the number of neurons
- Supply optimal initial weights while training neural networks
- Provide more of relevant data/input
- Normalizing /Scaling the input data
- Revise learning algorithm parameters
- Use Deep learning / architecture for auto feature generation to enable every layer to refine the features.
- Choose the neural network model according to the problem
Thus, Neural network models provide inductive means for collecting, storing and using experiential and realistic knowledge. Once the confidence on the accuracy of the output is arrived at, major business decisions can be taken based on the said outputs from the neuron network model. In short, decision support systems can depend on the output from efficient neural network models. We see in recent times that modular neural networks can perform highly complex task with great efficiency with very quick results.
Many decisions on sales forecasting, data validation, customer research, risk management and priority settings can be taken by business leaders, based on the outputs from modular Neural networks. In these times of penchant for disruptive decisions by entrepreneurs and investors, the Neural Network Models have gained a lot of prevalence!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Theory U was marked as the answer
We are living in very challenging times for businesses; lots of uncertainty, ambiguity and risk at every step. The leadership qualities of a leader are of prime significance now, more than ever before. The competition and the scope for generation of new and better ideas is very high due to the amazing technology and ability to transfer data at speed that was unimaginable a few years ago. A modern leader comprehends that athis is a time of massive disruption and creation. Hence, there needs to be a new approach to “see – learn –do” and redirect the course of events in a significant and constructive way. To address this, Otto Scharmer and his colleagues at MIT conducted interviews with many entrepreneurs and innovators in the fields of business and science to take some well – known ideas from them and combined the same in a profound way. He then extended the basic principles into a theory of learning and Management, which he called Theory U in his book with the same name.
Theory U is a change management method which can be used by Leaders as a “Personal Leadership” Tool. The concept that Scharmer puts forth, tries to provide reference points so that leaders or entrepreneurs are able to dissociate themselves from age old instituted ways of thinking and solutions. The idea is to enable leaders and entrepreneurs to make their own contribution to solutions which are in sync to what the organizations actually need in the current and future business environment.
The Theory U Model
The model is represented as a flow of stages in a U Shape that moves from left hand side to the right side of the U. The user, to begin the route at the left side of the U with will have to have open mind and acceptance to new ideas and be rational and not allow any emotions to obstruct actions to bring about any required change. Here onwards, the route /theory on the right hand of the U , starts to move in upward direction towards reintegration and acceptance of new and innovative ideas…. Then is the execution!!
Steps/ Path defined in the Theory U Model that can be used in an Organization.
The leader/Entrepreneur is advised to inculcate a culture of Cooperation and involvement in the organization, at all levels. The employees need to be encouraged to keep aside or abandon established ideas and practices which are non-productive and/or add no value to any process or product, or to the organization as a whole. Only then will new ideas and methods start budding and make productive and valued contribution to the business for present and future.
Most of the employees at all levels have gained experience and learnt from the past. The management must encourage the employees to also “learn from the future” by focusing on future possibilities in the business environment by “Presencing” – a merger of two words,” Presence” (Past & Future) and “Sensing” (Feeling). Thus, to “Presence” is to realize the future potential of any situation/condition.
There needs to be an effort to develop a system from the prevalent conditions / status, following steps in U Shape path to attend to and co-shaping the organization for the future.
1) Downloading is continuing or repeating the existing pattern of thoughts and practices
2) Seeing/ Observing is when the people are ready to suspend the existing pattern of thoughts and practices and be prepared with “fresh eyes” to see.
3) Sensing is the phase when everyone redirects attention from objects to source. And try to understand various perspectives of the same situation, which all may have overlooked earlier. Allowing new concepts to overrule the old concepts which did not show results , through factual listening, empathetic listening and generative listening.
4) Presencing is the turning point!! As mentioned above, it is about letting go of everything that is not essential and productive and explore the dormant potential of the future.- Point of realization of untried possibilities
5) Crystallizing is the phase when the organization /employees begin to enact or envision the future., without any fear of adversary in the organization due to non-adherence to old methods
6) Prototyping is bringing the new into reality by improvising and embodying the new ideas and concepts into samples or models of product built to test the idea / concept or process . This helps to evaluate a new design to enhance precision and provide specifications for a real working system , rather than limiting to a theoretical concept.
7) Performing is to implement the concept /idea/ process for better results.
Thus Theory U is about bringing change. When there is liberty and method to change , the organization begins to see and do what they did not see and do earlier.
In Practice, Entrepreneurs use the Theory U as a tool to encourage employees to think differently – “Out of the Box” and have an open mind with respect to the new ideas and concepts and applications available of thinkable. The requisites and characteristics for proper following of this model are;
- Managers and employees at all levels should be able to focus on successes already achieved.
- Brainstorming and innovation should become an intrinsic part of the organizational culture and policy
- Focus needs to be theer for the development of bot organization and the employees as individuals
- Adept technologies are deployed
- Awareness and research of the business environment is taken very seriously by the leadership team
This approach helps to define better processes in the organization. I have experienced this whole shift of culture in an organization that I used to work for. Executives were trained through work shops with many exercises and routines , to be able to communicate and influence the idea of thinking differently for any given situation and bring about a fresh way or method that is better than the existing methods and most importantly was relevant for the future.. I realize now that this was the initial set up for the Kaizen methodology culture that the organization wanted to instill!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in VRIO Framework was marked as the answer
VRIO stands for Value , Rarity, Imitability and Organization. A Question Framework of the 4 mentioned matrix is created to analyze and uncover ‘Sustained Competitive advantage”. Since it is a tool that helps to plan for achievement of long term goals and create an edge over the competitors, VRIO framework forms a part of the Organization’s strategic Scheme.
Unlike SWOT, which is carried out on the organization as a whole, VRIO analysis is conducted on each individual resource or competency that needs to be reviewed.
The abovementioned four components of VRIO Analysis are arranged in a framework in a style of a decision tree with branches that lead to decisive strategies and then action points.
The said decision tree structure with branches or nodes are developed with some fundamental question that lead to decisive strategies and then action points. The most fundamental Question to put forth relevant to any resource/Competency is “Does the said Resource and/Competency add value to the customer?? It is pertinent that only resources/capabilities/competencies that add value, can lead to competitive advantage, else, any non-value adding resource may lead to competitive disadvantage only. After that the next relevant steps are taken in the defined course of the Framework – Refer to <Diagram 1>
Steps for VRIO Analysis;
Objective: To determine whether the Resource /Competence under review has a Competitive advantage or a competitive Parity or does it have only a temporary competitive advantage or an unused Competitive advantage or at the best it has a sustainable competitive advantage.
1) Select and Define the Resource/ Competency that needs to be reviewed
2) Ask questions to arrive at the Decision Nodes and verify the competitive edge of the resource/Competency in review.
3) Use the 4 categories of Value, Rarity, Imitability & whether the organization is able to capture the complete possible value.
4) In the first Category we need to understand if the Resource is adding value to the Customer. If a resource is established as being not valuable to customers then it is only draining time, effort & money and there is definitely a Competitive disadvantage. Action points can be taken to either eliminate or improve the said resource /Competency
5) If the Resource /competency has value but has less or no demand or is Easy to come by at the competitor’s as well- not rare; then it would fail, the rarity category test and will be said to bring in Competitive Parity. This would mean that the said resource is on equal footing with the Competitors in the market. Action Points to be decided to bring in that “Difference” to beat the competition and create a need /aspiration & demand in the market
6) A resource with Value and Rarity is then tested for it’s Imitability. If the analysis through relevant questions and research data leads us to conclude that the resource is easily replicable and can also be attained by any competitor then there is a Temporary Competitive advantage, as there is always a chance that the similar product will be available in the market from other competitors. The action points need to focus on what can be done with the resource to remain ahead of the curve.
7) If the resource in review is analysed to be Valuable, Rare and also inimitable then the said resource has still got the potential to be used to maximum. This resource probably has an Unused Competitive Advantage that the organization has to capture. The action points need to ensure that the organization puts in place the right systems, processes and procedures to utilize the unused advantage.
A Sustained Competitive Advantage is the best possible outcome of the analysis as it would imply that the resource/competency under review is bringing in multifaceted advantages to the business and the organization has robust systems, processes and procedures to take acquire due benefits of the competitive advantages that resource is providing- Then, the focus needs to be on marketing the resource/product/ competency.
The above concept can be used to the benefit of the organization- The benefits or advantages of the VRIO Framework concept are;
- It is very Simple and Clear concept and gives decisive output
- It shows where the business is doing well and where it is not doing well- Resource specific. This makes it easier to take focussed corrective & preventive and creative actions for continuous improvement
- It is broad – any resource/competency can be analysed very quickly
- The process can be repeated multiple times for review due to the less time it takes and the reliability of the output
- It can be used to analyse competitors as well and then take action on edging them out- A possible and justifiable business objective.
- Can be used to compare the organizations business advantages with that of the competitor. This ,combined with the need and demand analysis of the market can help to take major strategic decisions.
Almost every matured organization uses VRIO analysis in combination with other analytical techniques to help evaluate not only business resources and competencies, but also the products. For example let us take the Burger giants in the country. Each one of us will agree that there is not much to a burger than the bun, the dressing and the patty in between. However, you will see that each of the Burger brands are competing to create value through competitive pricing, Rare type of patties; I know of a brand which has started Raw Banana Patty to attract certain segments with religious practices, in the market. You will see these players investing to develop in-house (proprietary) sauces to make them inimitable and yes the organization is fully committed to utilize any unused advantage that any product, / resource/ competency that can help to do better business. Notwithstanding, this is a continuous business evaluation process.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Hoshin Kanri was marked as the answer
“Hoshin” in Japanese means “Direction” or “Compass Needle”, whereas “Kanri” means “control” or “Management”. The combination of the two words reflects the connotation “Direction Control”. Hoshin Kanri is also dubbed as “Policy Deployment”.
It is essentially a Lean management method to ensure that that the strategic goals of an organization, drive progress and action at every level within the organization. The intention of the technique is to let the strategic goals guide every decision and action in a planned manner and eliminate the waste that comes from inconsistent direction and poor communication.
It is a powerful, process oriented strategy deployment methodology for defining long range key entity objectives. These breakthrough objectives, which brings about significant way the organization operates, extend 2-5 years with little change. In addition, the Hoshin Kanri process continues to focus on the day to day business measures to run the business effectively and align with the set strategic goals. This dual approach countenances the organization to focus on a systematic growth of the organization in any business environment.
How does Hoshin Kanri work in a Business organization??
“Strategy without tactics is surely the slowest path to victory. Tactics without strategy is the din before defeat.”- Sun Tzu
At the onset, the top management must understand the symptoms that indicate that the organization needs to follow Hoshin Kanri.
- Senior Management Vision does not match the organizational activities
- Annual objectives are rolled out in March and not earlier, say in January- shows that the planning in being done JIT- a big flaw!!!
- Year to Year Plans never seem to connect.
- Constantly missed budgets and forecasts
- Too many bad projects in process
- Very long lead times for improvements
- Most employees, never seem to feel part of the team. The “old” ones feel that the new changes are demeaning and useless and the “New” employees feel that the old system is too rigid and useless- dissatisfaction is omnipresent along with low morale
- Little or no connection between strategy and continuous improvement
- Excessive brooding over market conditions for dissatisfactory results.
- Very less time is spent on planning . Ideally it is a recognized fact that 60% of time in a PDCA schedule should be spent on planning, but most organizations as a culture believe that maximum time should be given to doing- A misconception that needs to be ironed out.
The Top management must also recognize and act to nullify the key limitations of standard strategic planning
- Too Many priorities
- Insufficient detail/ data for analysis
- Lack of active review
Hoshin Kanri helps to capture and concretize strategic goals as well as to develop the means to bring plans to “real” effectiveness- It is therefore a target-means deployment.
Many Organizations use Hoshin Kanri as a visual Planning tool to aid them to identify the key focus points and strategies to use to steer the organization towards its vision. The tool enables “everyone to see” where the organization is going and simultaneously, the plan towards the vision. The modus operandi is to build plan and strategies as a team and share responsibilities across all levels to get results.
The idea put forth by Professor Yoji akao was that “Each person is the expert in his or her own job and Japanese TQC (Total Quality Control),is designed to use the collective thinking power of all employees to make their organization the best in their field”. Based on this concept the Hoshin Kanri planning process indicates the method in which an organization can drive it’s action on a day to day basis to reach their strategic vision.
The three levels of Hoshin Kanri Deployment in an Organization.
1) Top – Management by Principle
- Shared Values
2) Mid- Management by Priorities
- Objectives setting
- Target Means Deployment
3) Tertiary-Management by projects
- Network of interrelated projects
- Cross Functional Management
The Next Step is to create a hierarchial system for Goal Alignment and measure through well-defined KRA & KPI. The idea is to ensure there is a vertical alignment through entire company structure using top down goal setting in such a fashion that each subsequent goal supports the previous level’s goals. This has to be integrated with Bottom up focus on total employee involvement in continuous improvement.- It is a Catch ball process.
Mature organizations, thus link their Balance Score card, which contains macro measurements related to key success factors to the MBO (Management by Objective) programme by setting targets and encouraging the supervisors to negotiate the targets with their subordinates and recognising and rewarding wherever and whenever due. Hoshin Kanri accentuates this by providing focus on alignment and measuring key processes and putting forth who will do what and when to achieve the set goals!!
Hoshin karni uses the following three key principles ;
- PDCA Cycle
- Pareto Principle
- Cause & Effect Relationship
The Seven Steps applied in Hoshin Kanri are;
i) Establish Organization Vision
ii) Develop 3-5 Year strategic objective
iii) Develop Annual Objective that will culminate into the 3-5 year strategic objectives
iv) Deploy to departments using target- means approach
v) Implement the action plans
vi) Review progress regularly (Monthly/ Quarterly)
vii) Conduct bi annual reviews
Though this may simple , there are critical success factors that always need to be focussed upon to ensure that the methodology does not fail at any point.
- All analysis and decision needs to be data driven – Management by fact!!
- Focus needs to be consistently on the process – more than on the results
- Management Goals and priorities need to be deployed across all functions and levels.
- There needs to be adequate tactics to achieve goals
- There needs to be just sufficient communication between the functions
- Last but not the least- Regular reviews at all levels.
I have experienced the rooted use of Hoshin Kanri in a MNC which is a famous burger giant, wherein the whole process was called as 31Q. It stood for 3 Year vison, 1 Year plan and quarterly objective & execution. The Vison was Planned in the top line meetings and percolated to the mid management. The mid management team would have a departmental 31Q meet every year, wherein they would break away from daily routine work, for a few days and focus on reviewing internal processes and outputs and plan the objectives and execution to align with the vision. This in turn would be presented to the top management and a visual plan and toolkit would be drafted by the strategy team in collaboration with the top management. The output would be a distinct, measurable plan of action for each department- a target- means approach. This was denoted in an in-house version of the Hoshin Kanri X matrix in Excel sheet. It was designed to develop and implement strategic, tactical and synchronized plans across not only departments, but also the people across the organisation
The same would then be implemented as a part of the quarterly business plan. It was used for policy deployment . periodic reviews enabled each team to work on their strengths and optimize opportunities so that the team at each level could drive the results in a time bound fashion towards the 1 year plan and the 3 year vision.
The Hoshin Kanri XMatrix ensured ownership and accountability at all levels and thus encouraged organizational learning , faster course corrections and cross departmental coordination and people & process development and continuous improvement. The Hoshin Kanri X Matrix is available in Excel on the web and can also be created by using the QI Macros add-in.
The said MNC is a leading brand in India as well as in other 165 countries across the globe because of many reasons, but one of the most obvious reasons is this adopted method of Hoshin Kanri as a culture.
Some other famous organizations which employed Hoshin Kanri include Toyota, HP, and Xerox. Toyota has followed the Hoshin Kanri concept since the 1960s. These company’s long-lasting success clearly proves that this approach leads to positive results.!! Hence , as stated in the question, as an analogy, Hoshin Kanri as a strategic approach ensures that the boat of business smooths smoothly in the desired direction, However or whichever may be the direction of the winds of external market conditions.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata was marked as the answer
Kata refers to fundamental moves made in Japanese martial art, which is practiced over and over again by self, ideally under supervision of the “Master”. Continuous practice leads to a routine that the body gets used to and become a basic form or pattern that the body will follow as a reflex action, by impulse as a reaction to any stimulation. For example, a “criss cross” arm movement to defend against a punch from an opponent can be practiced as a Kata by self. Continuous practice of the same makes the muscular coordination so efficient that, the arms will move in the same pattern in which the kata prescribes , to fend a punch if and when someone actually attacks.
Thus, Kata is a scientific methodology that uses consistent practice repeatedly to train any skill that enables a person to make continuous, rapid & incremental improvement.
In Business or in an organization, the concept of Kata can be used to institute continuous improvement philosophy , by developing habits and skills to shift individual mindsets. Eventually this will drive the organization’s culture towards continuous improvement and keep processes efficient, customers will be happy and most importantly it will be a profitable organization.
You will see this phenomenon most ardently followed at an inbound Contact Center – The call agents are made to run through scripts for various situations- It is given that 99% of the calls that are received by a service call center is almost similar by history of query. The common call types are defined and appropriate responses are defined, keeping in mind the legalities, Company Policies, Customer satisfaction quotient, industry standards and a “Win Win” approach.
The scripts are repeated with prescribed intonation and soft skills over and over again during training , through “Mock calls”. Over a period of time this becomes a habit and more like a inbuilt programme in the agents and then they are allowed to attend the “real/ live” calls.
There are five steps prescribed in Improvement KATA:
1) Understand the direction of Challenge
2) Grasp the current condition
3) Establish the next target condition
4) Experiment Towards the target condition
5) Repeat till satisfaction/perfection
This is almost Similar to the PDCA cycle.
Having said that, instituting a new habit or process can be daunting – any new practice brings about change from the existing and hence there is always the associated perils. Henche Kata needs to be a structured “Routine” that makes skills and mind-sets teachable .
Coaching Kata is a set of routines in teaching, that help you develop coaching skills. It is a pattern or process that helps Managers in a business environment to teach improvement Kata thinking and practicing and applying in real life situations.
The approach to training people is also similar to the steps of Kata improvement.
We may call it PPTF(Prepare, Present, Tryout and Follow up)
Prepare- in this step, the trainer, who is a subject matter expert ensures that the training requirements(Challenges) are recognised & addressed- The purpose and the end objective is known and the required resources are available
Present- The Trainer presents the process or the Kata to the trainee and explains the why behind the process.
Tryout /Practice- The Trainee practices the kata or process exactly as described under supervison of the trainer , until it’s pattern becomes somewhat “involuntary” and habitual for the trainee. Corrections are made and advise given till the trainee understand in detail
Followup- then it is about more practice and the trainer follows up on improvement and advancement for next steps. This step may continue for a period of time till the trainee becomes a thorough through practice and is able to execute.
Example of Coaching KATA is followed in many matured organisations that follow a sturdy training culture and are receptive to lean methods.
These organizations follow many sorts of checklists to monitor the advancement in both improvement Kata and coaching kata.
There are many such formats available on the net like; Improvement Kata Story board, Obstacle Parking Lot, Current Condition/ Target Condition Form, PDCA Cycle records form.
There are many organizations which are into food business (Quick Sevice Restaurants) that also follow-up on the trainees and processes through “Onfloor” observation Checklists at the Gemba.
Both theh above described methods can be actually used in all organizations with any type of business, as it is only about practicing till you excel
Thus practicing the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata approach in an organization improves the speed and effectiveness of learning as a group and not as single individuals. It creates a shared ,standard way of thinking and action for the group, which will be well fortified to deliver ever improving results- towards a profitable organization!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in CEDAC was marked as the answer
CEDAC stands for Cause and Effect Diagram with the Addition of Cards. It was developed by Dr. Ryuji Fukuda, at Sumitomo Electric, as a tool for continuous systematic improvement.
The CEDAC board helped to identify causes of specific problems and to identify, test and institute process improvement in a participatory approach. 350 CEDAC projects were initiated, tried and tested by Sumitomo Electric with extraordinary results. It was proven to be an effective tool and the concept was appreciated as it could be applied to a variety of situations – Design problems, Communication Problems, Set Up Problems, downtime problems and many other problems an organization faces regularly and commonly. Today the concept is used in many organisations which believe in participatory approach and development of solutions for any problem at the helm of the workplace.
How Does a CEDAC work??
It is apt to say that CEDAC is an enhancement of the Fishbone diagram, which accentuates the process that allows team members to build on each other’s ideas from a brainstorming session.
1) The team should agree on a problem to be analysed and solved- <Diagram 1> is a CEDAC board for the problem of Hitrate of on time food delivery
2) Determine the major categories which can be cause or have effect on the problem
3) Think of possible causes in each category and jot them in sticky notes (Post it stickers) and stick them on the CADEC Board in the blue zone (Left Side) in each Category box
4) Use the “5 Whys” tool to search for root causes and jot them on the sticky notes and connect them to the various other contributing factors.
5) This board can be placed like a bulletin board at the “Gemba” with an invitation for the whole team to examine and possibly add some more causes that they feel are relevant for the problem statement.
6) The team should be encouraged to also post their ideas of solution for the causes of the problems, on the Yellow zone for respective categories (right side) of the line.
** Sticky note pads of both colors need to be made available**
The above six steps ensure that the causes and solutions keep coming in tandems. The solutions need to be analyzed for the impact and effect and prioritized based upon the maximum benefit. The idea is to implement the solutions and reduce & eliminate the causes that impact the problem statement.
The Board needs to be updated as and when a cause reduces.
The status of performance improvement also need to be updated. This way the activity has an immediate feedback mechanism. This improves the motivation for participation.
The above method was implemented in an organization, by me, wherein food delivery was a channel for sale. It is common knowledge that “Timely Delivery” is the most important deliverable for the customer to appreciate the transaction, followed by Quality of appearance, taste etc. The fact is that in most of the food products, the time spent in delivery also impacts the quality of food negatively in direct proportion.
Hence, the problem statement was about Hitrate of Delivery (percentage of orders delivered within the stipulated and committed time of 30 minutes). Internally the objective was to close the order within 30 minutes, ie. The rider would return to the outlet after completing a single order within 30 minutes- That would confirm that the customer has received the order within 30 minutes.
The CADEC approach was applied in 5 sample outlets- The idea was that the most common and effective learnings would be applied across all the outlets during a roll out. The impactful Insights that were derived from the CEDAC Board were:
- Non availability of Riders
- New Riders took longer to reach the Customer as lack of area knowledge
- Incentive on attendance and productivity
- Soft copies of maps were developed with area land marks
- Trading area was not defined- distance of delivery was very high in many orders which took lot of time , and consequently the orders pending for delivery also got delayed
- Trading area was rationalised to a seven minutes riding distance during peak traffic times. This actually ensured that we were able to deliver food to the customers on time and the repeat business grew after a period of time.
Design of Outlet & Process
- The Delivery section was too far from the Exit it took that much time more.
- The Bike parking area was too Far from the Exit
- Orders of delivery took more time to prepare as the home delivery orders are mostly of units of product
- Special section was created for delivery where the 5S approach was followed to improve efficiency.
- Bike Parking and maintenance was given due diligence
- Orders for delivery were given priority and the 5S approach at the Delivery section helped a lot in saving time for production, assembly and packaging of the orders
- Large orders with more than 15 units of products were given separate status as "High value orders and the delivery time was extended and conveyed to the customer. This reduced the customer's anxiety.
IT & Equipments
- There was no method to confirm the actual delivery time of the order
- Bikes and kitchen equipments needed to be upgraded
- Applications were developed to ensure that riders could update the delivery and payment times.
- Rider tracking GPS was incorporated in the application
- Bikes and equipments were upgraded with a proper preventive maintenance calendar in place
- Customer Data base was not very neat with address information being incorrect
- Customers would take time to receive order or make payment , thereby delaying the rider for the pickup/ delivery of next order
- Existing Customers were called and addresses were rectified. A standard format of registration for address was instituted. Order takers were trained to follow the address confirmation process and entry in the Delivery software.
- Customers were sent messages on phone in advance before the rider reached them, to remind them to keep the payment handy
The results were nothing less than awesome. We not only saw an excellent Hitrate , but also a steady growth in orders and revenue- a brand revival !!
Some points that we have to take note of;
- Ensure that all members participate in some way or other and no one is allowed to overpower anybody’s opinion in any way- it has to be a receptive process
- A “NO BLAME” atmosphere with mutual respect needs to be instituted.
- Categories must be defined well within the team and ideas beyond the defined categories should also be given due respect- “Only an unshared idea is a bad idea, else no shared idea is bad”
Some other benefits that were realised.
- Team Bonding
- The team learnt a constructive approach to resolve issues
- We realized the potential of some people from within the team- we had such wonderful people who were prospective leaders of the future.
This was one of the best projects I have led and the CEDAC approach was the inspiration and method behind it.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Return on Investment (ROI) was marked as the answer
For most Investors, the purpose of the business/ initiative is to harvest more money from the money invested, which is a fair objective. The top three business matrices that is on top of mind is self sufficient Cash Flow, ROI and Profitability- ideally in the mentioned order. Hence, it is common to see that profit & ROI responsibility is delegated down the line. In many organizations, where the investor has maximum say/power, ROI has become the system of management control.
Simultaneously, the top management is also keen about operational excellence, revenue generation and brand building. Continuous improvement across all processes is a core necessity. Kaizen is a proven approach that brings about continuous improvement and contributes towards profits for the organization.
It is but common knowledge that the Kaizen methodology has to be implemented as a culture within the organization – a culture of continuous improvement by;
- Encouraging commitment throughout the organization- Involvement.
- Making kaizen a part of the routine
- Binding it back to everyone’s job, through Improvement targets and attached incentives. - Departmental KPI /KRA which are allied with KPI /KRA of other departments
- Measuring and announcing results
- Communicating – across the organization
- Being Deliberate and patient
- Repeating/ replicate/ scale up what worked well, wherever applicable.
Both Individual initiative and Team effort is required at all levels, across the organization to build a culture conducive to Kaizen approach. Cross functional collaboration is essential for overall efficiency and a smooth value chain.
On the other hand, Return On Investment (ROI) is calculated by taking the difference of the income and cost of an activity / project – The profit generated. This is then divided by the cost.
ROI = (Net Profit/Total Cost)
The Base is thus cost and the ROI is best when the cost is lowest.
If the costs are higher than the immediate estimate of sales, there is a risk of negative ROI, which means that the investment lost money, so you have less than what you would have had if you had simply done nothing!!
The above mentioned mathematical thinking may actually inhibit initiative levels. The fundamental idea of kaizen approach is defeated and will undermine the value of empowering people to identify opportunities for improvement and make small changes if required
For Example, if ROI is given too much importance, say in a food production unit; The urge for improvement in quality / taste will be taken over by the necessity to reduce cost of production. This can lead to compromise in QA which will impact the overall customer satisfaction and resultantly less revenue and profitability for the organization. Thus, though the ROI may be improved in the production process, it is at the cost of company profits.
Another point is that overemphasis of ROI on improvement initiatives may not anyways give a correct picture of the ROI, immediately, in many cases.
For Example, an improvement in the quality of a product or a new product that has been developed will affect performance significantly only in the future, over a period of time. Similarly, any changes of small improvements, in various levels of the organization will collectively affect the future performance of the organization. Such changes or improvements will not reflect in current profitability or ROI.
The best example I can think of, which most of us will relate to is, a sales improvement programme in an organization will take improvement steps in marketing campaigns as well, along with other initiatives. But focusing on immediate ROI of these activities can hurt the brand and the long term goals and vision.
I believe, Immediate results can be strong indicators of how potentially successful your initiative is, but a proper follow up and continuous improvement will only ensure that the immediate returns do not disappear as quickly as it came.
Thus, as mentioned above, it might not be possible to evaluate performance / impact of improvement initiatives on the basis of the objective of ROI.
It is best to get away from blindly emphasizing on ROI from the minor improvement initiatives and develop procedures that best suit the requirements of each organization/ process. The ideal method would be to develop a proper Kaizen culture across the organization and keep the ROI calculation at the organizational P&L level. Periodic reviewing of the improvement initiative(s) at departmental levels which are intended to contribute to improvement in the organization’s performance, is a must!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Cherry Picking was marked as the answer
As Humans, we like to avoid pain- a propensity. The common notion is that people without the instinct to avoid risks or things that might hurt tends to die early. This is the core reason that you will see the habit/compulsion of cherry picking. “Cherry Picking” as the term suggests is based on the perceived process of harvesting Cherries, wherein the picker/Plücker, Picks the fruits which are “lowest hanging” ripe and easiest to pick and fill the basket.
The acceptable or positive definition of “Cherry Picking” is the action or practice of choosing and taking only the most beneficial or profitable items, opportunities, etc., from what is available to meet immediate requirement. The negative connotation of the same can be that the easiest task/ project is done first and ignoring the other tasks in hand.
Similarly, in any organization, selection of a continuous improvement project is a task which has the scope for Cherry picking in both the perspectives- positive and negative!!
Ideally the criteria for selecting any project for process improvement are:
- Customer Impact
- Process Stability
- Data Availability
- Defect Definition
- Impact on service quality
There is no right or wrong order to prioritize the above criteria and most of the times the projects that suit the immediate need is selected. It is always most apt to keep in mind that the internal and external stakeholders are the people who will be effected the most by the process improvement project. Hence a well-planned project, with analysis of all the above mentioned criteria and impact is recommended at every opportunity to choose any project.
Cherry Picking can be done both intentionally and unintentionally
Advantages Of Cherry Picking in Continuous Improvement Programme
- Most impactful projects are selected and thereby creates a sense of confidence in the top management- Investment in Sales improvement projects which brings in immediate cash flow
- Sometimes projects which can be done based on similar successful projects, done earlier, with available insights and learnings are best suited to meet time constraints – Life improvement of sellable products which are nearing expiry date
- Some of the projects that benefits the later projects / operations can be cherry picked – Training projects that will help in proposed operations in a new start up can begin, even before the operations is implemented.
Disadvantages Of Cherry Picking in Continuous Improvement Programme
- There is a chance of ignoring the better project options, with better impact – The Online marketing may be an easier and more cost effective methods to reach out to customers- This is so more obvious in these times of pandemic- But customer engagement is a continuous improvement project and Online marketing may be missed out by the customer as it is far too overwhelming in these times… maybe a telephone call would be a better option.
- Sometimes the output of cherry picked projects are not permanent or sustainable and can defeat the whole purpose- Sourcing easily available Imported ingredients in a product can be a risk and continuous production may be difficult if there are any issues in importing. A local sourcing or local development of the ingredient is a better option.
- It is not a good idea to cherry pick in a new project, which has no previous benchmark or simulation to compare with- The risks of choosing inappropriately is high.- Example in teh improvement project for some life saving medicine
As deemed from above, it is obvious that the cons of the practice is more damaging for an continuous improvement programme as it is a practice that neglects, overlooks or directly suppresses scope of researched action that could lead to better improvement to any process. Hence “Cherry Picking” is not what I would recommend unless the required criteria and output is analyzed and/verified.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in HYPE Cycle was marked as the answer
In this age of business disruptions and innovations, entrepreneurs and Investors alike, want to move away from the tested and tried and explore new ideas. Technology is the best catalyst for any such vision.
New technologies are being discovered almost every day across the world and the news and awareness of any related information also spreads globally very fast due to access to communication mediums over internet and telecommunication. Needless to say, any technology’s success is reckoned and appreciated only when the broad market applicability of the said technology is relevant to any business and is creating revenue and profits.
Having said that, determining which technology will be commercially viable and will justify the time and money invested, is most important. There are many technologies that become obsolete by the time it evolves from it’s innovation stage to a stage of effectiveness. Hence, investment is a risk and at times many an opportunity is either wasted or missed. To address this need, An analyst from Gartner,Jackie Fenn came up with the “Hype Cycle” concept in 1995
The Gartner Hype Cycle provides an annual graphical representation of the maturity and adoption of evolving technologies and applications. Hype Cycle is very important to the Investors and Entrepreuners as;
- It estimates how potential the technologies and applications covered in the report are to solve real business problems and exploit new opportunities in many businesses.
- It gives a view of how the application or technology will evolve over time , thus providing a comprehensive analysis and insight to manage its deployment within the context of the relevant business goals.
- It Separates hype from real drivers of a technology’s commercial promise
- It reduces the risk of the investments made in technology
- It acts as a point of reference to compare their understanding of a technology’s business value with the objectivity of experienced and reputed IT Analyst – Gartner is the world’s leading research and advisory company
.Every Year Gartner analyses over 90 evolving technologies from across the world and drills them down to it’s 5 Phases of Lifecycle <Diagram 1- Hype Cycle 2020>
1) Innovation Trigger – Early Proof of Concept (POC) and stories from media “trigger” substantial publicity , through and attached excitement and bold promises. More than often there is no usable product and there is no proof of commercial viability. The three futuristic status is that
- Some of them may take some years to reach commercial viability and may fizzle out also
2) Peak of Inflated Expectations- Publicity creates expectations and many follow ups pour in on the technologies- a few success stories also goes around but most of them fail and are put below the carpet. Some companies take action , most do not.
3) Trough of Disillusionment: As the experiments and implementations fail to deliver, the interest of the Investing & entrepreneur community diminishes. But some high risk taking investments continue in select technologies if there is some improvement and some adaptable product is enhanced to the satisfaction of early adopters. BUT most of the work stops for good.
4) Slope Of Enlightenment: Few instances of benefits from the technology begin to develop and are accepted. Investors with moderate appetite for risk , put in funds for pilots, but conservative investors remain cautious.
5) Plateau of Productivity: The broad Market applicability and relevance of the technology or application are paying off. The next steps for using the same is better defined.
Investors refer to the hype cycle graph to get educated about the potential of an emerging/ evolving technology within the context of their business and their own appetite for risk.
The Hype Cycle of 2020 <Diagram 1> indicates that the hype surrounding Conversational AI is very pragmatic. With the ongoing pandemic having stimulated & accelerated the importance and adoption of digital technologies, by all users of technology, be it business or consumer, It is but obvious that virtual agents are inevitable and is developing and maturing at an exponential rate- Good times for even the conservative investor!!!
Examples Of Technologies That Are At Various Levels Of This Cycle.<Diagram 2>
Stages Of The Hype Cycle
Estimated time to Reach Plateau
Scope of Maturity/ Plateau
2- 5 Years
AI Developer & Teaching Kits
AI market Places
Artificial General Intelligence
More than 10 Years
Things as customer
Peak of Inflated Expectations
Data Labelling and annotation Services
2 -5 Years
Dwindling towards Trough of Disillutionment
Deep Neural Network ASICS
AI Cloud Services
5- 10 Years
Troughs of Disillutionment
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
5- 10 Years
More than 10 Years
Slope of Enhancement
2- 5 Years
Plateau of Productivity
Less than 2 Years
Diagram 2 - Stages of Technologies
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Digital Twin was marked as the answer
Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical entities -object /machines/ bodies. With advanced technology, such replicas can be created as a per the real physical object’s construct at the micro atomic level and the macro geometric level as well. At it’s optimum standards, any information that can be obtained by inspecting the physical product, can be obtained from it’s digital Twin.
Thus, a Digital Twin is a computer program which integrates IOT, AI, Machine learning and software analytics to create effective simulations of real life Object/Machine/body, that can predict how a product or process will perform, without using the physical object.
While other simulations may help with understanding what can occur when changes are introduced, a digital twin adds value by helping to understand both what is happening currently and possible impacts of any change in condition or time, within a process.
Advantage of this methodology is that study of a process involving any object/machine/body can be done remotely, as the virtual twin provides a contextual model of the object operations/working.
Digital twins offer the following benefits to the user while developing a process or optimizing the same;
- Transformative spatial awareness
- Research without the risk of causing any “Real” damage
- Practical observation of any defects, thus helping in RCA
- Intelligent Recommendations become obvious easily
- Corrective methods can be applied, as the digital twin allow the ability to self-tune and gives immediate insights needed for any preventive maintenance
- Accelerated risk assessment and production time can be determined thereby optimizing the process & saving costs, reducing wastages and enhancing productivity
- Real Time remote monitoring , helps to allow experts attend to any immediate requirement within short time as time to travel etc is saved.
- Real Time, better team collaboration , which enables brainstorming and solution finding with as many number of people required, from wherever they are physically.
- Financial decisions can be made immediately
- Training can be done easily
- Any control action or preventive maintenance can be determined without risking any damage while researching with the real object.
The above mentioned advantages facilitate all the phases of the DMAIC process effectively and efficiently and thus contribute highly towards process development and optimization- They are indeed powerful masterminds to drive innovation and performance.
Digital Twin is used in heavy Equipment and machinery work segment (Factory), in industries like Manufacturing, Engineering, Construction, Automotive- Digital Twin is aptly used in all phases like;
- Process Validation
- Throughput optimization
- Manufacturing / Construction execution
- Scaling up production and Maintenance and sustenance of machines and devices
Few other Industries where Digital Twin can be applied:
- Education – Biology Students can actually understand the body parts of any animal, at any time without having to dissect one. Likewise, with students doing mechanical studies.
I recently came to know that there is already a virtual and augmented reality laptop “ZSPACE”, a 3D laptop that is transforming learning. Students can be in the classroom. They need to use a pair of polarizing glasses, studded with tiny reflectors that transform the items on screen into digital twins in 3D and also track the user/student’s movement. The orientation of the 3D object will look correct from every angle. The mouse /stylo allows the student to pick up and move items, thereby fostering a fully immersive experience, with detailed simulations that a digital twin is supposed to. This allows students to explore human/animal bodies, car/aeroplane engines, or any physical entity that is seen on the screen- part by part in smallest detail.
- Defence – Complete 3D Approach on interfaces and maps, improvement work on Weapon machines
- Robotics- Developing humanoids, which can be used in defence industry as well
- Infrastructure & Real Estate – developing underground structures such as metro lines and water pipelines – Smart Cities.
- Telecommunication – Hardware enhancement
- Healthcare- Simulation of medical equipment, chemicals, packaging etc.
- Aeronautics and Space research- can be used for performance tuning- the spacecraft can be tuned from earth
- Fashion – Modelling an outfit on the digital twin of a customer
- Concept Designing in Marketing and Advertising- A 3D printer is a real boon
- Customer Service – A customer service agent can guide a customer or technician remotely on correcting any defect in any appliance - Many Contact Centers use teh digital twin methodology.
It must be remembered that the inception of this concept was for the purpose of Product Cycle Management (PLM) and is now adding value to many industries. Basically the concept can be used for any situation wherein help can be gained by replicating a physical entity.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Stakeholder Analysis was marked as the answer
It is very common to see from managers invited for a (project) meeting, a request for the agenda and the participants and their role in the meet. The request is generally from a manager who understands the value of the impact of stakeholder’s influence on the project timelines and outputs. The importance of Stakeholder analysis and effective action on it, lies in the aspiration to uncover and remove any barriers in every milestone /phase of a project- It eliminates the roadblocks in completion of the project by helping to get information about project supporters, opponents , approvers and the level of importance /power of the said type of stakeholders.
Stakeholder Analysis is a step by step process in which you ;
1) Identify the stakeholder
2) Understand the needs and requirements of the stakeholders- Understand the priority of each stakeholder and why any one of them would abort/ delay/block the project
3) Understand the Power and influence- use the Power influence grid <Diagram 1>
4) Rank them with Power and influence – So that you can prioritize the engagement with the stakeholders whose energies(Power/Influence) spent are focussed appropriately to get maximum benefit to the project plan.
5) Develop an action plan for the stakeholders– A Sort of TO DO List, with the action, target date and the name responsible stakeholder for each To Do.
Accommodate the following to ensure that the project gives desired results within defined timelines and budgets;
- Communication strategy within the stakeholders
- Engagement strategy, so that all are involved and focused on the same goal
- Risk Capture and Management - ensure that al failure or risk modes are considered and the stakeholders are educated about the same and the back up plans
- Success Planning- back up in case of any back out by any stakeholder.
The above mentioned seems an easy process only if the following complexities do not arise;
The common complexities in Stakeholder Analysis and how they can be overcome
Complexities of Stakeholder Analysis
How to Overcome
identifying the stakeholder is not easy as sometimes some "loud" individuals with minimal knowledge/Control/Power or influence ,may dominate the initial brainstorming process and mislead the identification process
The Project head must map out the stakeholdesr and facilitate the meeting authoritatively to ensure that everyone is allocated equal voice, and the maximum qualitative input is received and recorded.
Misjudge the needs of the stakeholders. Example: A project that justifies the process of freezing gravies and replaces the daily gravy making process , in a restaurant chain,thereby reducing labor(requirement of the project) may be opposed by the Trade union and their need could be to fail the project.
- Review project elements that can be opposed/supported and map them <Diagram 2>
- Analyse the insights that the matrix and manage accordingly
The communication flow goes for a toss
- Ensure each communication(presentation/Brief/Meet/Mail /Instruction note) has a distinct documented purpose and all are educated
- Select Apt Communication method for each Stakeholder( individual/Group). For example a PPT Presentation may not go well with employess who may not be educated enough.
- Ensure all communication barriers/filters are avoided
- Always ensure that the communication cycle is completed.
- Consider how teh communication is always 2 way between the project and the stakeholders.
The power /Influence of the stakeholder is misjudged
Should not be a "One time" judgement. Must be reviewed and revaluated or reassessed periodically and amendments should be made
Stake holders are grouped incorrectly- Influence and ability to contribute may change over a period of time, in any organisation, moreso in small organisations wherein the hierarchy and talent acquisition methods can be faulty and volatile.
Should not be a "One time" judgement. Must be reviewed and revaluated or reassessed periodically and amendments should be made
Stakeholders are not aware of or misunderstand the rewards of the project (What is there in it for me)- Leads to dissatisfaction and an human tendency to defeat the project flow may sink in.
- Ensure Clarity in rewards and recognition
- Ensure Timely gratification
- keep reminding the stakeholders of the status of the project and how close they are to the benefits that the project will provide to them.
Risk Associated with the stakeholders are not recognised (Delay in approval, Withdrawing of funds, "Change of mind" due to influence of other stakeholder etc.)
- Keep all possibilities in mind and either keep a backup in mind or manage the stakeholders with any scope of bearing any risk. "Keep eyes an ears open"
- keep reminding the stakeholders of the status of the project and how close they are to the benefits that the project will provide to them.
Sudden resignation or separation of an active stakeholder
‘- Prepare a comprehensive success plan before or during the project execution
It is obvious that most of the complexities are centric around human relationships and the idea to map them and presume or predict reactions at the start and believe that they will remain constant. It is most recommended that the project leader should realise that the stakeholder analysis is not a one off exercise and should go on throughout the project- till completed!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Trystorming was marked as the answer
In today’s fast paced work culture, lesser investment of time is appreciated. The concept of Trystorming has thus gained grounds, wherein brainstorming is combined with rapid or immediate prototyping to determine if ideas will work or not, as per the desired result/yield.
This process which is a part of the implementation or improvement stage in a process is more conducive when the involved people (Team) are experts in the subject and will be able to take a decision immediately. It is based on an established concept that a few corrective steps can resolve 80% of problems and it can take a lot of effort and cost to fix the remaining 20%.
The concept is also good when the approvals are required immediately from the top management/Sponsor. The immediate result oriented process allows quick decisions to be made.
The basic concept is;
- The problem and the desired output / result needs to be known i.e what is the problem and what we want to achieve
- 7 potential solutions need to be generated by the team, before proceeding to select one.
- Prepare as least as possible number of solutions by combining the best aspects which the team is able to conceive fully, convince others that it will work and can be measured.
- Initial focus needs to be on removing barriers, to implement best processes/practices already validated
- Least possible cost needs to be incurred
- The output needs to be at a functional model level and not at an immediate “Industrial strength” level. The concepts / prototypes need to be proved for desired results, before investing in final machine/ product, / packaging / process
- Trystorming is best done at the Gemba
- It can be done as a continuous improvement programme.
- Solution needs to be scalable and replicable
- Solution should not be implemented if the risk of health, life , property, brand value and or finances is high.
Keeping the above points in mind, Trystorming process is applied in an effort to apply principles and practical prototypes to improve a product/process when the “situation at a glance” suggests improvement in outcome.
Thus, Trystorming can be used in many areas including
- Software applications, wherein immediate prototypes can be made to check results and can be undone as well, if the results are not as desired.
- Warehousing, wherein the inventory placement set up can be changed to get bet results in space management and distribution patterns like FIFO or LIFO etc.
- Final Product Packaging and life enhancement of perishable products- Like packing cut vegetables in vacuum packs in different quantities.
- Change in Recipe/ Content (Production floor)– A recipe of a product can be changed and tested/Tasted for improvement.
- Assembly Plants – where a workstation can be mocked up by rearranging the furniture’s or just creating a mock station with demarcations on the floor.
In all the cases the mock up is dismantled or discarded after the tests. The idea is proven to be implementable and in cases where the scale of implementation is high and a pullback is not easy, a pilot batch is done and then scaled up after successful try-outs.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in HIRAC was marked as the answer
A never before level of awareness of Health & Safety has come about in the society during and since the COVID pandemic outbreak. Consequently, today, the responsibility towards the safety of the employees at the workplace is more vital than ever before. This is not only because of the moral obligation but also due to the rejuvenated implementation and follow up by the civic bodies on the Health and safety regulations. This is a positive trend as most of the growing organizations with ethical mind set, have optimized the situation by building a Health and Safety first culture. This culture building is beyond procedures and measuring results and is about institutionalizing attitudes, beliefs and broader values that each employee shares commonly. The Management is consciously focusing on this culture enhancement as they know that this will in the long term project the organization as a safe place to work and attract good candidates, who prefer to work in matured organizations with strong safety culture and value of responsibility towards their employees.
One of the tools that many organizations have adopted to ensure a safe workplace for al stakeholders including the customers is HIRAC- Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control. The HIRAC process accentuates the management of hazards in the workplace. It is the fundamental mechanism to ensure a safe operational environment and inspires and follows the base of the contemporary health and safety legislations.
The ideal management approach for HIRAC
- inculcate a top down approach , where the leaders create a “Shadow of the leader” for the subordinates to follow and are morally and ethically committed to act responsibly within their circle of influence , for the safety of all people in the operational area.
- Create “Safety Teams” so that representation from all departments /Sections are , wherever there is a potential for any hazard to safety of people.. Sub teams can also be made in big organizations. The idea is that the involvement in the HIRAC programme is there at all levels across the organization.
- Pre-empt the possible categories of Hazard in various working environments in the operational environment.
In the following categories Let’s take the examples of an operational environment at a Restaurant
(i) Biological – Includes Bacteria, Insects, Animals , which can cause adverse health impacts- EXAMPLE: Mould in food stuff due to improper storage . Some Organizations follow Strong HACCP process to ensure safety from hazard from food in the cafeteria.
(ii) Chemical- Includes hazardous substances like Cleaning solutions, Paints, Varnishes . Apart from cause of allergies, respiratory issues and serious issues like blindness etc. Most of them are inflammable and have every chance of causing a fire or explosion at the workplace. EXAMPLE: Stocking of Cleaning Chemicals in the warehouse.
(iii) Physical- include environmental factors that can harm any person like slippery floor, Heighted stairs, Undue Noise, radiation, Low oxygen level, loose wirings which may cause a person to trip etc. These are very much possible in any working floor EXAMPLE- Slippery floor can lead to the possible fall of employees and Customers as well.
(iv) Electrical –EXAMPLE Electrical shocks from Equipment’s or malfunctioning wiring or improper earthing. It can be a part of the Physical category as well.
(v) Ergonomic- Include musculoskeletal injuries. for EXAMPLE, a poor table / lounge setup or damaged chairs with improper levelling which causes a lot of physical stress to the customer who sits at the restaurant for over an hour or so for a meal.
(vi) Psychosocial- include those that can have a bad impact on the employee’s mental health- EXAMPLE sexual harassment, Extended hours without breaks etc.
Post the above mentioned preparation the Steps for HIRAC approach are mentioned below;
1) Potential Hazard Identification in every working area. In the organization.
Examples for the same are mentioned above, when we discussed the categories of Hazards in a Restaurant .
2) Risk Assessment – This is the step wherein we assess the probability and severity of the above mentioned types of hazards becoming a reality. There are 5 steps to Risk Assessment:
Step 1- Identify the hazards
Step 2- Decide who may be harmed or impacted and in what situation
Step 3- Assess the risks and take action
Step 4- Make a Record of the findings
Step 5- Review the risk Assessment
A Risk assessment finding can be recorded in a table format in every unit and a corrective and preventive plan can be implemented with a regular safety checklist to check and control. The Table may look something like this at a Restaurant (Diagram).
Technically a Restaurant is a working environment where the people who are present are not only the Employees of the restaurant, but also the customers who are dining there, the Vendors who may have come to offer their services and yes, we often forget to think about the safety of the neighboring shops and establishments.
3) Plan Control Measures – The Risk assessment will give enough understanding of the risk and the impact. Post that it is very important to do a proper brainstorming session with Subject matter experts (SME), as this is a very critical programme. Yes, the inputs may be taken from all the levels to instill involvement and ownership across the organization. In our case the restaurant. The Approach should be of Preventive action and apt follow-up, depending on the level and impact of the Risk. The objective is to reduce or eliminate the identified hazards.
A Risk Assessment Table may look like this at a restaurant, with only one example of a hazard in each category of hazard. We may make an analogy for other units of operational environment.
4) Record Keeping – It is very important to always maintain records of all risk assessment reports from step1 onwards and the records need to be updated whenever there is any new information. The documentation is best when there are images &/ video Links with description of best and worst Practices. This will help in training and imbibing the culture. 360-degree feedback needs to be documented as well. Keep updating the documents and modules whenever the scope of any new hazard is cited and the process needs to be followed over again for each such identified hazard.
5) Implementation & review- All measures should be implemented after due approvals from the top Management. Periodic Meetings, once a week in the initial phases and then once a month and review the efficiency of the tool. The feedback management system should be followed very strongly- bottom up approach, because the best information comes from the gemba!!
A simple metrix can also be used to help prioritising the actions- The red cells are on highest priority !!
So much of effort and documentation may seem tedious and at times useless when no real issue comes up over a long period of time. The whole approach gets diluted. We must ensure that the excitement and involvement is kept alive with rewards and recognition for achievements of SMART “Safety Targets”. We must always remember and remind all within the team that all the applied effort and focus is better than any untoward incident to happen in our work place!!!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Competency Mapping was marked as the answer
The project leader is primarily accountable and responsible to ensure that project is completed effectively and efficiently. A team effort from a team which contributes aptly to the project tasks is what enables an on time and successful project.
For a successful completion of the project the project manager would want a team which is able/competent to deliver the needs of the project tasks. He would need enough people, not more nor less
A project Manager would always ideally prefer to place the ACES IN PLACES to ensure that each member is able to deliver his/ her best abilities to the tasks which need the desired competency. Hence it is a must that the Project Leader does a competency mapping for the team.
Competency Mapping is important as it helps the Project Manager to;
- have a better understanding of each team member’s strengths & weaknesses.
- Increase his awareness about the skill sets available or the skill gaps that are prevalent in the team.
- make cognizant decisions while defining the scope of work and allocating responsibilities /tasks to team members or groups within the team.
- Plan development efforts through training/counselling , for the improvement of skills within the existing team members, if any realised gap in skill or lack of required competency is realised through the Competency mapping analysis. Else, to create vacancy for new team members ONLY if the organisation/Sponsor allows to.
A project leader should be transparent with his team members and provide them one to one feedback on his inferences. Feedback can be provided for the group, wherever pertinent. This helps the following;
- inspires open communication within the groups in the team and between the Team members and the leader as well.
- this sort of an project culture also helps the leader to appraise performances quantitatively and specifically and delegate and guide without any scope of ambiguity in mutual understanding of ability.
- minimises the scope of expectation gap.
- Provides an cognizance of any weakness/ competency gap, which may hinder the quality or timeline of the project output.
The Project manager needs to take the following steps to Map the competencies of his team members:
- Prepare a project Charter which will comprise of the work breakdown Schedule - the tasks /work in the project.
- Prepare a competency Matrix with the following steps
A) Create Overview of the required Competencies
The required competencies for the tasks within the project can be arrived at and tabulated with an in depth review of the task forecast.
Let’s take a project in an organisation with the objective to improve the utilization and the yields of the equipment. The project team would be a combination of staff from departments like operations, Maintenance and Repair, Purchase, Finance, Quality. Each participant will have an defined role in the project the basic competencies or skills that the participants may hone are ;
(a) Basic Project Management Knowledge- So that there is less time invested to teach them the involved methodologies.
(b) Communication and Basic People Skills –This will enhance the understanding and bonhomie amongst the team members
(c) Conflict Resolution – This will ensure that there is no delay or process hazard due to situations when there are some conflicts that may arise between members from different functions or fields and all members work with harmony towards the project goal only.
(d) Problem Solving Skills- It will help them in mitigating or solving issues that arise during the project fulfilment.
(e) Subject matter expertise (Technical Knowledge about the Equipment) – This is important at least in essential few members, so that issues and solutions for equipment specific functioning, during the project can be resolved immediately.
(f) Risk Management: This will help the team members to pre-empt and mitigate any threats that may affect the work in hand.
(g) Customer Management Skills : A basic customer management skill , to service both internal customers from within the organisation and the external customers is a must for any project. This not only readies the members , but also prepares them to train the final users /yielders to answer any query or attend to any untoward incident that causes inconvenience to customers.
Define tools to Evaluate the available competencies within the team or new recruit
The tools to evaluate the existing competencies within the team, or the external hired candidate, that can be employed are;
1) Competency based Interviews :
Structured interview with questions designed to target information and level of the desired competency in the candidate.
2) Questionnaires &/ Or Psychometric Test
There are 2 forms of questionnaires that can be used ; (i) The Common Metric Questionnaire (CMQ) which uses the four common or general domains required for a team player – Background, Amiability(courtesy and team work), Decision Making, Knowledge of the work in hand . (ii) Functional Job Analysis (FJA) , a qualitative analysis which breaks down the test into 6 parts of behavioral evaluation points; Data, Instruction following, Reasoning, People practice, Mathematics and language.
Psychometric Tests are standardized , scientific tools to evaluate the mental capacity and behavioral styles of the candidate , through aptitude, achievement and personality testing.
3) Assessment Centres
This is a process wherein simulations of various elements of the job in hand are created to test the candidate. These situation based tests help to evaluate the key competencies required for the success of the project, like knowledge, attitude, skill and behaviour
4) Critical Incident Technique
This technique is based on direct “On the job “observation of the candidate. Many organizations use a Scored checklist of acceptable, non-acceptable job behaviors for the supervisor to evaluate the performance of the candidate in live situations. I know of an organization that calls this checklist “Knowledge Observation Checklist”. A periodic, ideally quarterly or annual scorecard/ evaluation sheet is created for each Employee to grade or rate his/her performance.
The above mapping methods can be used individually or in combinations, depending on the satisfaction level of detailing required of the competency of the candidate. A Competency Rating Scale needs to be used to score/measure the result of the test(s)
I personally feel that if conducted effectively, Interviewing is the most powerful technique to obtain information which may otherwise be unavailable through the other methods.
*** There is another method of asking the member to do self-assessment. I do not second this method as there is no guarantee of accuracy here, not even close to accuracy. The disadvantage is that people are not always mature or evolved enough to evaluate themselves properly. I would rather recommend a 360-degree feedback system, wherein feedback is taken from supervisors, peers and subordinates. This may give close to accurate results***
Once the tools to evaluate the Competencies are decided;
C) Evaluate the available competencies within the team or new recruit & Determine the interest level of the team members in accomplishing the allocated tasks
We must evaluate and measure the proficiency for each competency mentioned above. The best approach is to score the participants through the tests and evaluation techniques mentioned above and create levels based on a segment of defined range of score achieved. I have seen many organisations use a 5 level scale to determine the proficiency Level (P);
Lev0- Unacceptable (Counselling on Career)
Lev1- Needs Improvement (Extensive Training)
Lev2- Fair (Coaching Required)
Lev3- Good (Can be a good assistance)
Lev4- Excellent (Tasks can be delegated)
An important additional supplement to the step above is that every individual needs to like and enjoy their work. There are many a people who fall in the higher favourable levels in the competency assessment, but they may not be willing to do the work or may not be enjoying the work. The good level of competency is of no use then. Hence; For each person, you’d also want to know the interest level (I) ;
Lev0- No interest in applying his/her skill
Lev1- Interested in applying his/her skill
D) Incorporate the above information and analyse the insights and act upon them.
The Competency matrix is to be prepared now by incorporating the above information . The Competency matrix thus formulated appears like this.
Basic Project Management Knowledge
Communication and Basic People Skills
Problem Solving Skills
Subject Matter Knowledge
Customer Management Skills
Analysis and Action points;
Using this matrix, we can spot the individual’s and team’s strength and Weakness. It is obvious that Kapil has good all-around Competency and maximum interest in applying his skills. Pinky & Sourav have best competency in Risk management and will be able to aid the team to mitigate risks. Though Virat is very enthusiastic in sharing his skills, his competency overall level does not meet the acceptable levels, hence his best competency which is Communication and people skill can be used to the most to ensure that the coordination within the team is maintained by him
As a team, it is obvious that the team overall is deficient in the skill of conflict resolution.
The Project Leader may need to be wary of this and take the onus of ensuring that minimum conflict arises within the team and any instance is resolved quickly. It is also evident that the team’s overall interest in customer interaction is low, which may be because of lack of confidence. Whether the project leader will take the onus on himself or hire another team member with great customer management skills to manage the customer management is dependent on factors like the consent of the Sponsor, budget and the extent of importance of customer management in the said project.
Thus, the project Leader can balance the skill levels and the interest levels to the best suited requirement for the project by taking required actions towards the insights derived from the Competency matrix derived through the Competency mapping process!!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Measuring Customer Satisfaction for Classroom Training was marked as the answer
In case of an objective to measure the customer satisfaction for the performance of a classroom training provider of courses for working professionals , the obvious situation is that the customer has already booked the slot for the CRT.
Here, the customer has come to receive some training which is a need for him. Hence in the quest to measure the customers overall satisfaction, following is the ranking I would suggest for the five metrics:
1) CES- It is important to measure how the customer felt about the effort it took for him to learn / participate during the CRT. CES is best applicable when there is an immediate need / expectation is met.
2) C- Sat- Though not as relevant as the CES , Customers experience during the CRT and the extent to what his expectations have been met will determine the Csat and his loyalty and how much he promotes the same CRT to others, hence I have reated it as second
3) NPS- This will help the organisation to assess whether the customer is a promoter or detractor so that the potential to get more participants through referrals can be projected, and simultaneously understand whether the CRT provided was apt.
4) CAC- is important to understand the cost to acquire participants for the course, which includes creating leads and then converting them to participants. This will help to determine the fees for the Course and also budgets the arrangements for the Class.
5) Churn- In this case, the churn of the customer is not relevant / applicable for this example as the participant will not go to some other training center for the same course- Having said that as mentioned above , if the CEC ,Csat & NPS is low, the participant is definitely not going to come back to the institute for any other course.
Having said that , The most important point that we must remember here is to make good use of the measures and learnings derived from them and implement improvements in the process to ensure immediate customer satisfaction, future loyalty and referrals.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Complaint Handling - ecommerce was marked as the answer
This was indeed a great article. It gave an insight into the implementation of the basic complaint handling method, which subsequently puts forth the culture and values of the organisation. The Basic 5 Stepladders towards perfect execution is well covered by Ocada through:
1) Easy and simple accessibility – Very important for the customer to be able to reach out with ease …It gives indicates that the feedback is welcome and appreciated and hence the process is made easy for the customer.
2) Prompt Acknowledgement- Very important as with the advent of technology in media and communication, a response is expected as a “default” by the communicator for the assurance of a communication loop being closed. The faster the response, the better. Also, the acknowledgment gives the complainant the comfort that his or her grievance is taken note of – and the initial anxiety is reduced.
3) Quick Response- fast or ready Decision on resolution. This is the most desired action that a complainant would want. Delight is guaranteed if the decision is in favour of the Complainant!!
4) Well Written Response : The language and tone plays a great role in the impact of the communication- A personal touch and a humane feel gives the best impact.
5) No Quibbles :The last straw for an already upset person would be any further objection or trivial query- It can at many times aggravate the initial ire.
It is visible that Ocado has considered the factors to provide a seamless & customer centric complaint management system.
A point that comes in for consideration is how well autonomation can be used ,to accomplish the above steps and an approach to improve the internal processes through the above-mentioned steps.
- Ease of Accessibility is a completely technological approach as there are multiple channels available and all of them are easy to host on a single CRM Platform- Twitter, Facebook, Contact center, etc. The customer can use any channel that is convenient.
- Acknowledgement can be an auto response. In addition to this, I personally feel that the customer should be provided with an acknowledgment / Docket number. This number can be used for any future reference to the complaint.
- Quick Response is the key to resolving a complaint and mitigating most of the situations as a conversation starts with the customer- How well this conversation is effected is what makes the difference ..
I personally believe that this process has to have a human intervention to understand the core issue or concerns that the customer has put forth- Some added benefits that can be accrued thus are :
i) The Concerns faced by the customers can be categorized to specific functions/ Departments within the organizations and thus creating a functional accountability. Then they can be further bifurcated to different types of possible failure modes, thus also identifying the frequency of such detectable deviation from process.
ii) The efficiency and productivity of the Functions / Departments can be improved by analyzing root causes of the defects and defectives and taking corrective and preventive actions.
iii) Cycle times for internal processes can be defined and adhered to and thus a Lead time can also be committed to the customer.
- Well Written Response can always be a canned i.e. predetermined responses through text – based technical support systems, because most of the complaints or concerns are repetitive in the online retail industry.However a minor intervation to give that “personal” touch is recommended for out of normal/ regular cases.
- No Quibbles- will only give great comfort to the customer and hence the focus needs to be on reducing defects and type 2 errors – the system needs to be enabled through continuos improvement to reduce the need to take more than limited details of the order. The customers are normally okay to give purchase details in brief. They expect the remaining work to be done by the merchant. In the case study provided the cost of the reject material was not to the extent of requiring to many more details- this is a business call that the organisation needs to take – what is the extent of COB that is okay to pass on towards customer delight.
An additional gesture that can also be done here is to update the customer on the action taken post the feedback to improve on the process and to reduce or eradicate the recurrence of their concern or complaint in the future. This can actually create the WOW factor , as the customer will feel delighted that not only was the concern resolved as an single standing issue , but his feedback was taken as an starting point for improvement in the organisation- THE CUSTOMER WILL FEEL IMPORTANT- in true means the gesture will imply that CUSTOMER IS KING!!
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Project needed but not allowed was marked as the answer
Within the organisation, It is imminent that the professional markets six sigma/Lean/Business excellence implementation as a profitable business venture.
There is a three step approach that needs to be taken...
1) Evaluate the key panel members who will be easier to approach and convince. Ideally the best person to 'target' is the CFO.
2) Prepare a plan or presentation with time tested concepts which emphasises on communicating an idea in terms of it's monetary benefits.. Like better Throughput, ROI, Cash flow, positive P&l. This should help as the even the most conservative leader/manager will think twice before rejecting any idea that has even the faintest potential to reap in Monies. They will offer some time for the presentation
3) During the discussion, the Professional should market it as a low risk proposition and limit risk related conversations. CHOOSE the lowest hanging fruit.. Or a project that will be easy to complete and will have decent results... Needs to be an efficient project. This pilot project should have limited risks.... It should be communicated that a full fledged lean/six sigma implementation will start ONLY if the pilot project proves successful.
Most top management members will be fine to this and give the go ahead.
In case this approach fails, then the other back up options are :
1) Conduct a Workshop on the fundamentals of Lean and six sigma in your organization... Actually this can be the first step to approach our own organisation also... It completely depends on our presentation skills..... We may opt to invite an external expert also, to conduct the workshop for the core management team. This will ignite the spark for kaizen and other methodology. We may want to invite our own VK from Benchmark to conduct the workshop (No brownie point expected for this ).
2) contact your friends, colleagues who may know of small businesses like a retail shop or a manufacturing unit and offer your expertise and take the 3 step method mentioned above.
Other options could be to advertise your services online....
The objective should be to start with the one successful project that will pave the path for many more.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Lead Time, Cycle Time was marked as the answer
Lead time and Cycle time are important metrics in lean and process improvement . The difference in both is obvious and simple but people tend to misunderstand the concepts and are unable to differentiate between them and use them interchangeably – this is what leads to a confusion in understanding the situation or problem in the process – thus inducing delay or blockages in process improvement. The other reason that causes confusion is also when the process is not defined correctly , ie. The start point and end time are not defined correctly in terms or effort and time – Let us understand in detail-
I suppose the major confusion is created by the different definitions that are available for both these metrices , sometimes connoting similarity between both.
In General the definitions are:
Lead time starts when a request is made and ends when the request is met or confirmed as undo-able. Basically it is the time taken for closure of a request from the moment the request was made.
Cycle Time is the time taken from when an activity starts to the time the activity ends.
Let’s say a Customer of a QSR Home delivery service has called, at the Customer Grievance center, to place a complaint about a defective product that he has received. As per the policy of the company the , the QSR offers to replace the product within a lime limit of 30 minutes .
- The customer has placed the complaint at 8pm in the evening.
- The Company acknowledges the complaint instantly and delivers the replacement at 8:30 pm, However the activity of customer grievance resolution has started at 8:15pm , a little while after the call came in.
Here, if the complete process of Customer grievance handling is considered as a single process, the lead time is 30 minutes, but the Cycle time is only 15 minutes as that is the time it took as an effort to close the issue.
Lead time thus is the time used but not the effort . In the situation above . Thus the lead time could have been 45 minutes as that is what the customer care agent could have committed, but the time taken to actually put effort and close the activity of replacing the product would have taken the same time – 15 minutes as per average time taken to prepare the product and then deliver to the customer.
Another Perspective- The point to note here is that there are two activities happening here:
The Customer grievance addressed
The Product Replacement
Started at 8pm
Started at 8:15 pm
Completed at 8:30 pm
Completed at 8:30 pm
As per definition
As per definition
The Cycle time is 30 minutes
The Cycle time here is 15 Minutes to
The Lead time is also 30 minutes
The lead time here is 15 minutes from the moment the customer care agent informed the Outlet
So there is a sense of confusion in the single simple example mentioned above-
However, There is a better way of looking at the whole scenario which tends to wipe out scope for any confusion-
Let us look at the differences between Lead time and Cycle time
Lead time is measured by Elapsed Time (Minutes, Hour , etc)
Cycle time is measured by the amount of time per unit (Minutes/ Product or process step,
It is a measure of throughput (Units per Period time)
It is a measure of throughput (time per unit)
It is more a measured and estimated value
It is normally an average value
Lead time is what the customer sees as a a resolution time
Cycle time is the average time taken per sub activity within the whole process that the customer sees as lead time.
From the above example it is safe to state that Lead time and Cycle time are related with the work in Progress (WIP) in the entire process, in a relationship described by Little’s law:
Lead Time= Cycle Time*WIP
Lead Time= WIP/Throughput
The Cycle time above must be the process cycle time, which is determined by the bottleneck . Cycle times of individual steps cannot be used alone to calculate the process lead time without knowing the WIP.
Thus lead time is more or less clear – In normal spoken verbatim, when someone asks how long will I have to wait after making a request- He is asking what is the lead time for my request.
Cycle time is basically time taken to complete any activity- from start to finish.
The confusion is not there when the following diagram is clear in mind.
Rajesh Chakrabarty's post in Process Maturity was marked as the answer
Process Maturity in an organisation means, all the processes or whatever the organisation does as business , is done in a documented way and everyone knows what is expected of them and performs accordingly. In such organisations, performance is not dependent on individuals or just by things falling in place without intension, but due to proper process flow. All decisions are made on proper situation analysis and documented decision logic.
Once there is total confidence in the organisation that the above mentioned is true and not a mere desired concept, there will always be a scope for measurement & analysis of every process or cascading sub processes. The process maturity thus embodies the indication of how close a developing process is to completion and stable enough to capable for continual improvement- it goes without saying that qualitative measures and analysis need to be applied. It is noteworthy that for good level of Measurement and analysis , relevant data needs to be accessible as and when required. So, all processes which are complete in it’s purpose or usefulness to the big organisational needs and are automated as much as possible and are reliable in information with the scope for continuous improvement are Mature processes. Required data, which is relevant for measurement and analysis towards improvement is available from within a mature process.
Thus , it may not be wrong to say that the prerequisite for a process to improve is that the process needs to be mature- at whatever level . Hence, the assessment for maturity of a process carries great significance. The substantial science behind the concept of process maturity is that there are 5 levels to define the maturity of the process- Level 1 is the least mature and the level 5 is the most mature. The processes at any level address the features of the lower levels – The ground level is level 0 where there is no defined process for the activity- Obviously it is not mature at all!!
The 5 levels to define the maturity of the process:
Level 0- Person dependent Practices- No Documentation
With experience it is seen that all activities are adhoc , as there is no fixed documented process . There is no guarantee of achievement of purpose or of Turn around time(TAT). The communication between functions is minimal and is mostly with a directive approach. Because the activity is person dependent, If there is any change of person who owns the activity, knowledge transfer or handover of the method may not happen most of the times.
Level 1- Documented process
The sponsor, most of the times the CEO or COO of the company approves the documented processes , However the control on the process is not evident because of many reasons including process drift from what is documented or other changes that have occurred in the business environment since the document was drafted.
Level 2- Partial Deployment
Here the documented process is deployed, but inconsistently- many a times not in all intended locations/ sites or and not in all functions or and not by all the intended “doers”….etc. Thus the documented process has variations and hence there is inconsistency in results.
Level 3- Full Deployment
The deployed processes match the documentation and caters to all intended sites , doers and all functions are linked as is defined. The consistency of the process is better than ever before and the communication between functions are complete and closed.
Level 4- Measured and Automated
Noteworthy improvement is the adherence to timelines , better customer satisfaction, cost control with measurement for each matrix. The process is system driven such as ERPs, Csats, VOC and other custom made softwares.
Level 5- Continuosly Improving-
The process matrices af being analysed for positive changes & improvement . The targets and goals are also being set with due analysis of trends and possibilities through DOE and other techniques such as Six Sigma, Kaizen etc. The systems being used are also being regularly upgraded and scope for errors are also reduced with strategies like poka- yoke.
The Table below summarises the Maturity levels-
Measured & Automated
As aforementioned, The processes at any level address the features of the lower levels. The above table can be used as a checklist to definen the current status of the process being followed . This can be an effective tool before augmenting on the redesign or improvement of a process. Hence the concept of and assessment of the maturity of an existing process is very significant. As is always said the right place to start is “as is Now”!!