Building Excellence - Production & Productivity
If things are not working one must challenge basic assumptions (warning: one will be running against standard established procedures). We often accept things without question, we stop thinking. This leads to the Creative Problem Solving issue. Instead of running on auto pilot the management and the employees should be encouraged to think outside the box including questioning and resolving existing procedures. The idea is: The real constraints are often the policies and thinking process. In order to resolve any problem one must ask what to change, what to change to, and how to cause a change.
Creating balanced production flow. All departments are linked and depend on each other. The main task is to create a pipeline that flows continuously without creating production holes and constrains. The speed and efficiency of production depends on the speed and efficiency of the weakest link. For example, the weakest link is the engineering department. This department dictate how fast the production will move. Consequently, the ability of other departments to go faster is restricted. In sum, it is the engineering department that is really determining the maximum speed of overall production. One uses the department to control the flow of production. The idea is: The capacity of the entire production is equal to the capacity of the weakest department.
Taking care of constrains (for example: in the production of video games the engineering department often becomes the main constrain). The bottleneck department must be working mainly on tasks that bring the team closer to an established goal (a goal that will allow other departments to move on). If the department is overloaded with work distribute the work or hire extra talent. The idea is: Taking off load from the weakest link, make it stronger and more productive.
Over inventory means creating assets that keep people busy, but do not bring the team closer to the goal. People might be working. Are they productive? An example: the art department is creating environments before the designers are done with layout and testing the game play. In this sense, a place in which everyone is working all the time is inefficient. Use the down time to acquire new skills, improve techniques, establish or improve new guidelines. Scrum is a good system that controls excess of inventory.
Output Quality Control. Continuous testing of assets or code as a way to check quality of the output. Scrum needs better quality control system.
Delegate responsibility. Scrum does that, but also, the leads need to make sure that each team member is assigned tasks for which he or she is responsible and accountable. The goal is: Goals and Accountability as tools to increase performance and job satisfaction.
Feeling of meaningful contribution and team building. The contribution of any single person to the organization success is strongly dependent upon the performance of others. The whole team must finish the game together not who can get there the fastest (conflicts--how many times one department or individual is blaming the other). The leads should stay in tune with the team what people think is going on, what they see as a problem, who has a grunge against whom, get a sense of local politics, getting the full picture.
Productivity. The goal is to make the whole system productive, not just one department. How do we measure productivity or progress? By finishing assigned tasks and meeting defined goals on time.
Constructive criticism. The management, the leads, and the employees should feel free to exercise constructive criticism. The goal is: To create an atmosphere of trust, commitment, and success.
Leadership at Twelve O_clock High by David Hutton 2007
J. McNeil & Associates, INC. 2007
Member of the Lean Enterprise Institute Community
Books that Inspire and Teach
"The Goal" by Goldratt and Cox
"Shackleton's Way" by Morrell and Capparell