I have been asked many times about our LEAN journey and if/how it has benefited our business. The answer is yes, it has benefited our business. The how is more complex to answer.
it has given us clarity on what is possible by providing tools to measure what we do
it has given us the ability to make choices based on facts
it has provided a means to choose what is most important to us and help us measure how we are doing against that goal
That’s just for starters. However, this note is about improvements so I will stick to that for now.
We had made good progress with Lean and got together as a team in early 2018 to figure out next steps. We decided that we wanted to focus on building a culture of continuous improvement, where making things better was just in the DNA the company on a day to day basis.
Basically, in order to remove wasteful or inefficient work from the business, we had to teach everyone how to identify wasteful or inefficient work. In order to do that, we asked people to look at what they did each day and asked them if how they did their work could be improved. When a person identified something that could be improved, we gave them permission to just go ahead and improve it as long as it met the following criteria.
It had to be easier, faster, cheaper or better for the company without a reduction in quality.
This gave the entire company a platform for improvement with a really simple message. If you can make things better, please do. We set ourselves a company target to make 2,000 recorded improvements in a 12-month period. We started on the 1st February 2018 and made 17 improvements that month. We made as many as 352 improvements in November that same year. We recorded each improvement on www.trello.com and met for five minutes each morning before our project stand-up meeting to call out some improvements. This way, we showed the company that improvements were important, were visible and were being done.
By focusing on making improvements in 2018;
We built stronger ties between internal Teams and dramatically increased collaboration.
We challenged how we worked and made significant savings to our operational and management overhead. Costs are down and throughput is up.
We created a company wide culture of improvement and change that has become our normal approach to daily work and challenges. We build better products, faster. We deliver what the customer wants, not what we think they want. It’s based on fact.
Challenging how we do things and trying to make everything work that little bit better is a very powerful principal. It has become a way or working that is ingrained after 12 months of focus and 2,000 pieces of evidence that it can be done. If you agree that perfection is unattainable and that change for the better is advantageous to your company, then this model of many small improvements might be for you. Our guide throughout the journey was Andy de Vale from WorkVisible (www.workvisible.com).