Developing Lean Processes -- What are the Common Mistakes?

Just this month, Matthew J. Zayko and Eric M. Ethington published about Lean process development entitled The Power of Process: A Story of Innovative Lean Process Development, which explores Lean Process Creation and teaches the specific frames -- the 6CON model -- to look through to properly design any new process while optimizing the value-creating resources. The framing is applicable to create any process that involves people, technology, or equipment—whether the application is in manufacturing, healthcare, services, retail, or other industries.  The result is 30% to 50% improvement in first-time quality, customer lead time, capital efficiency, labor productivity, and floorspace that could add up to millions of dollars saved per year. 

When I spoke with both authors earlier in the month, I asked them: "What are the common mistakes made when developing Lean processes?" Here is their full response:

Although every situation is unique, the three lean process development mistakes we see most often are:

Confusing Tools with Goals -- This is often rooted in not understanding the true purpose of the many Lean tools at one’s disposal, coupled with a poor grasp of the current state of the existing processes.  This results in a patchwork of “Lean stuff” stitched together – a veritable Frankenstein of a process.  First, understand your situation (CONtext) and then apply the right tools at the right time to learn what you need to know.

Losing Sight of Targets -- New projects most likely have a business case.  Done properly, this business case is based on assumptions that have been documented.  These might include a particular margin level, production rates, volumes – and the list goes on.  Likewise, these assumptions are calculated from a variety of other expectations such as cycle times, process uptime, projected yields, and material costs.  Once the money is approved, progress towards some of the high-level metrics is sometimes tracked, but often the more basic expectations that fed the calculations get lost.  Additionally, these assumptions are rarely translated into metrics that make sense to the project teams earlier and earlier in the development process.  End-state targets need to be translated backward to meaningful targets at key points, earlier and earlier, in the development process.  What does a final target of 15% margin look like to someone who is developing early process concepts?

Treating Development as an Event instead of a Process --  It is amazing what a properly selected and inspired team can accomplish.  Just think about the impact a 3-day kaizen event can have.  Yet, the organizations that really excel with lean have figured out how to make improvement part of everyone’s daily work.  The same thinking applies to process development.  It is okay to start your journey to better process development with a great, focused team.  But make certain to capture lessons learned along the way to incorporate into your “process of process development.” 

What do you think of Matt and Eric's perspective on mistakes regarding Lean process development? Have you experienced the same problems in your company during your Lean initiative and process creation? 

For more information about the 6Con Model and Mat and Eric's book, please visit: https://www.thepowerofprocess.solutions/