There is one plan, and we’re all working on it
At 10 AM on Tuesday, we will talk about our improvement plans from our value stream mapping sessions.
At 3 PM on Wednesday, we’ll meet on our latest strategic initiative.
Thursday afternoon whenever we can find time, we’ll talk about the problems taken from our problem board.
Friday morning there are some new ideas I’ve been noodling on that I’d like to run by everyone.
And so the conversation goes. Action plans and improvements are just that, they are plans. And resources are resources. All of this must be accomplished at some point. We make things far too complicated when we keep all of the work divided.
The rest of this conversation might sound like this…
Why are we behind schedule on our value stream improvements?
Well, we’ve been busy with our strategic initiative, which is a bit behind itself, because of this special project that came up.
We can’t be managing our actions and our resources in separate isolated improvements. This needs to be one discussion, one plan, one team.
We need to be managing all of the work. I have yet to meet the organization with more resources than they have work to accomplish. Therefore, there must be a clear discussion of the priorities. If nothing is getting accomplished on the strategic plan, that may very well be the right answer because some other things are more important. But, it should be a conscious decision, made based on awareness of all of the work and all of the resources.
Why is this behavior and discussion so important?
1. If resources aren’t aligned on the priorities, two resources will get done partial work on separate activities, leading to nothing that benefits the organization.
2. Priorities change – they just do. Both external and internal conditions can make them change. Unless we are reassessing and realigning, we’ll end up working on what was important last month instead of what was important this month.
3. Only by seeing the big picture of work (making it as visible as possible) can see problems with overloaded resources, underloaded resources, and efforts at cross purposes. These problems can be fixed, but only if we are aware of them.
4. Sometimes, there are great opportunities to “kill two birds with one stone” (a rather twisted phrase when you think about it). If there is an opportunity to take some focused actions that both solve some problem and move a strategic initiative forward, then that’s great. But these opportunities will go unnoticed if they continue to be managed in isolated conversations.
It’s great that you have many sources of ideas for how to improve. But don’t let your many efforts to engage people in improvement turn into an impediment. Keep people focused on what needs to be done next. After all…
…it’s not what to do. It’s what to do FIRST!