Finding Improvement in the Margins [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 10-17-17

There are connections in every organization.  Some are easily seen while others are not. But, look closely and you will find them.  In the recent column I wrote for IndustryWeek I examined the waste that often occurs in these connections.  It is in these connections, in the margins, that there is great opportunity for process improvement in any organization.

Jamie Flinchbaugh continuous improvement margins

I discussed the following “connectors” as opportunities for close examination.  Once examined and discussed you will often find opportunities for process improvement

  • Shift start
  • Meeting starts
  • New product introduction
  • New employee orientation

In this excerpt from the column I discuss what will likely happen when you focus on the connections: If you examine these opportunities, there is a pattern in them. They are all connections, or handoffs. We tend to spend more time optimizing our activities (how we do something) and less time on improving the connections. There are two primary reasons for this. First, they are less visible. We might measure our activities down to the finest level of detail, but the connections usually require more observation to truly understand them. Second, they aren’t owned. Activity A is owned by one resource, and Activity B is owned by another. But who owns the connection?

These connections in your organization are often missed opportunities for improvement.  Spend some time examining these connections in margins and you will see what can be improved and what wastes can be reduced or eliminated.

Read the column in its entirety here.