Originally developed in manufacturing, Lean practices promise to increase customer and business value through the identification and reduction of waste, which includes bottlenecks and non-value adding activities.
One common mistake is to mandate that everyone should drive continuous improvement in their role, team or function. Such actions rarely lead to measurable system-wide improvements in flow (throughput). In any system, there is always a weakest link, or bottleneck. Examples include slow technology, an over utilised team, slow dependencies, or a single individual who simply cannot process requests as fast as the customer needs.
When improvements are made upstream of the bottleneck, strain and congestion are increased. When improvements are made downstream of the bottleneck, we introduce idle capacity. Only when improvements are made at the bottleneck will overall flow increase. But where are the bottlenecks in your organisations?
Non-value Adding Activities
Refers to activities that we perform on a frequent basis that do not add value to a Product, Service, or the Organisation. Lean practices help us to uncover these activities (aka the eight forms of waste), with the acronym DOWNTIME.
- Faster and easier identification of bottlenecks to flow
- Decrease operational costs through the reduction of non-value adding activities
- Increase in the amount of work completed
Critical Success Factors
- A reduction in the amount of work started – offset by higher completion rates over time
- Waste removal means changing the status quo