All Processes Can Be Improved
Steve told Session 8 of the Salmon Arm, BC Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“Three weeks ago after one of the Turbo Labs, I had an epiphany about using brainstorming to help my team. Our team is responsible for supplying the drawings and BOMs (Bill of Materials) for all the scanners in our various production facilities. Until about 18 months ago, I was the only person doing this task. I created all the procedures for producing the drawings & BOM’s, and for one division that worked well. Then with changes in structure and personnel added, I took on the task of producing the drawings and BOMs for the production of scanner systems for all our facilities. This, together with increased business levels, meant adding two more people and the creation of a team to do this work. My old methods are not working; they are slow and cumbersome and can cause errors. Errors create the emotional cost of frustration and hard cost of rework and loss of precious time.
“I decided if I didn’t change things, nothing would change and we would carry on not being as efficient as we could be. I decided to get our team together for a brainstorming session. I called for a meeting with our team outside at one of the picnic tables and laid out the rules, no red lighting, we just get all the ideas down and don’t try to find the best solution. Some of the ideas were simple, some sounded big (more like impossible), and some sounded scary, but we got them all down. The great thing about this was that there were a lot of ideas. The team really surprised me with their enthusiasm and desire to help solve the problem. Now we move on to reviewing the list to find what we can do to help the process smooth out.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that sometimes I have to shake things up a bit to find new ways to do things and the brainstorming method worked for me.
“The action I call you to take is have a brainstorming session with your team to find new ways to do old tasks and provide new life to your process and people.
“The benefit you’ll receive is fresh ideas to old ways of doing things and a team who feels more involved in the process.”
All work flows through a process. Most processes simply resulted over time. Seldom do we find a deliberately predesigned process. Most processes are in fact a patch work that has simply evolved. Never forget “errors hide in a sloppy process.” Steve was self-aware enough to see that his personal process wasn’t working for what was now a department. A department who largely did what they were told to do the way they were told to do it. Can you imagine how surprised and happy they were when the boss invited them to study the process to explore ways they could make it better?
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