How Do I Make It Better?
I think it's pretty easy to see by now that the "system is not the
solution" and businesses that view it as such become disenchanted
when things don't get better immediately. The failure is obviously
the fault of the inadequate software or the expectation-missing
consulting group, and the only change that needs to be made is to
get more software/ consulting help. Wrong. May we have the next
contestant please? My whole reason in putting this paper and
presentation together was to point out the fact that a
back-to-basics approach has to be the direction you take to deal
with these complex issues. I'm a firm believer that you have to
execute the fundamentals properly to be successful.
Any attempts to deal with the communications issues we've talked
about so far have to include an examination of the fundamentals
behind the issue. Like a basketball team, regardless of how talented
the individual players are, unless everyone executes the
fundamentals well and understands their role, the team won't win
and very likely won't have a lot of fun playing the game.
What do I mean by the fundamentals? Well, basic communications
skills are the best place to start. Don't take it for granted that
your staff knows the proper methods of verbal and written
communication. We're not born with that gift—it has to be learned
and nurtured. Offering classes to your employees, supporting their
efforts and making it easy to pass information along will do a lot
to alleviate the problem. There are various team building programs
available that stress the need to communicate and pull together
towards a common goal (like making the business successful!).
Everyone has to realize that there's a big difference between
telling someone something and communicating with them. The simple
practice of running a meeting with a preset agenda so everyone can
prepare takes away the ability for the various players to focus on
their own issues and can really keep things on track.
Another useful method of focusing the efforts of various departments
is to institute a formal system of performance measurements that
purposely cross traditional boundaries. When multiple groups are
suddenly faced with a common goal, lines of communication can open
up. The study of group dynamics has shown that a group will take
more risks than an individual and that may steer you towards some
real innovation from a communication and business standpoint.
A mini-focused-factory concept in one or two areas or the
institution of a planner-buyer for an area are also ways to
challenge the creative side of your people and break away from that
"safe and happy" wasteland. One item to stress is the responsibility
of anyone who receives information to follow up on that data.
Communication at any level has to be a reiterative process, not a
linear one. The necessity of developing a feedback loop must be
insisted upon by upper management; remember that the big reason for
communicating in the first place is to create an environment where
things can be done correctly the first time around. Every time that
you add the prefix "re" to the front of any word (rework, redo,
redesign), you are losing money somewhere.
Effective information flow is not a desirable attribute in business
today, it is a critical resource that must be invested in and
maintained just as you would an expensive piece of capital
equipment. It also has to be a shared goal of your organization to
remain effective. I've often heard the analogy of a business system
being like an old Model T; the managers can get out and turn the
crank and the motor might sputter and run for a while, but the hard
work lies in keeping the motor running. The creation of a
self-perpetuating system that will help avoid duplication of effort
is critical to long-term success.
The entire issue of successful business communication is an enigma.
We recognize the problems but can rarely implement solutions that
continue to work over time. If you learn anything from the
information I've presented, let it be the fact that simple is
sometimes better and solutions that are based on simplicity have a
better chance of standing the testof time than more complex systems
sometimes do. Take advantage of the benefits that technology offers,
but base your solutions on a good foundation.
Try backing away from the major issues affecting your business and
see if you can break them down to a more basic level. Once you've
had some experience doing that and recognize the fact that attacking
the fundamental issues will yield some pretty big benefits, you'll
be well on the road to a more productive environment.
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02
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