One of the critical skills for you to be a successful leader is change implementation. Surely you have already met resistance to change while pursuing goals critical to the success of the organization. Learning these skills will help you be a successful leader and to achieve your potential. We have been exploring how to be a Change Catalist having already looked at the 8 steps of Change Management and how to overcome resistance to change. This post will look at the first step: Identify the area of improvement. [tweetmeme]
Improvement ideas can come from several sources in a manufacturing plant. You may find yourself charged with being the Team Leader of a Change-over improvement team as part of your plant’s strategic plan. You might see a disturbing trend while reviewing yield data and realize that something needs to change. You could also get a great idea from one of your third shift operators if you are tapping into their ideas and are open to suggestions. Brainstorming can generate enough ideas to keep you busy for months. Encourage people to challenge the ways your organization has always reacted to issues. Use data when possible to state the need for change. Encourage creative thinking and taking calculated risks. Remind yourself and your team that if you don’t change anything, you will continue to get the same results.
Even without brainstorming, there are often more opportunities than there are resources in today’s food plants. You will often find the need to prioritize your improvement initiatives. It’s OK to wait on some projects as long as you prioritized your work. You cannot solve everything at once. Your initiatives will fail if you take on too much so making clear priorities is critical.
There are a few keys to prioritizing improvement ideas. Safety and Quality need to have the highest priority. This would include both the safety of the operators in the plant and the safety of the product. You must safeguard your people and your consumers as a leader in a food manufacturing plant. The finished quality must meet the standards and expectations of your brand in order to sustain your business. Safety and Quality are given in the best food plants.
Once you have placed the appropriate priority on Safety and Quality, you can evaluate other loss areas. Most improvements are designed to reduce losses such as yield loss, efficiency loss, or labor loss. Look for the best bang for the buck. The savings from the loss reduction needs to be significant enough to warrant the effort and implementation cost. Pareto Charts are one of best tools for identifying areas of opportunity. These charts do a great job of illustrating the 80-20 Rule. Make sure you are focusing on the 20 percent of the issues that are causing 80% of your losses. Use Pareto Charts to illustrate the business need to make the change. You will learn a lot in the process. You will also need to determine the likelihood of success. You may have two projects with similar projected savings. In this case the project with the higher probability of success would take priority. On another occasion you may have two projects with similar savings and prioritize the project that is more likely to succeed. Don’t over complicate the prioritization process. While it is important to prioritize, do not fall into analysis paralysis.
You should be able to identify several areas of opportunity as a leader in a Lean organization. There are often more opportunities than time so you will need to go after the ideas with the most bang for the buck. You will be ready to start making a difference as soon as you prioritize your ideas. The best leaders have a bias for action.