In my many years of providing mentoring and consulting I have come to learn one very important fact; The more steps you require someone to learn for a new process the less likely you are to succeed. Implementing Operational Excellence (OE) has a higher chance to succeed if the steps are kept few, simple, and easy. Another way to put it is that complexity works against implementation.
What to Measure?
This is usually the first sticking point in the OE process. It is normal that most people will have a hard time describing how what they do contributes to the success of the team or company. Even crew members who operate machinery vital to a process will have a hard time making this connection. Behaviors are a good place to start.
What You Can See And Count
With one crew there was a lot of specialized machinery and many specialized roles. To keep it simple they came up with measuring how many times maintenance was done each shift by the crews for each piece of equipment. Downtime was a big issue so counting the amount of times maintenance was done seemed a good place to start. Doing maintenance is a behavior that can be seen and counted. The expectation was that this was happening and as it turned out - not so much. However, once they started tracking it they discovered that downtime began to drop. Why? Because tracking that behavior communicated its importance and how it related to the success of the crew. Tracking this behavior elevated it to a higher level of visibility and accountability.
In one restaurant the manager and staff decided to track smiles at the drive through window. Their reasoning was that every encounter was an opportunity to boost client satisfaction (one of the restaurant goals). Smiles were recorded as checks on a napkin!
One executive office tracked the number of times their client (VP, EVP, CFO, COO or CEO etc.) asked for material for a meeting that had been set. This was an EA staff and they took the attitude that it was their job to have all materials prepared and in the hands of their boss before each meeting. They believed that if their boss was not constrained by these delays before meetings they would be more effective for the company. If a boss asked for something then the EA's regarded that as a missed opportunity to serve their client effectively.
With metrics, or kpi's or measures it is the same. The more user friendly the reporting mechanism the easier it is to implement. How easy you ask? In most cases it began with hand drawn graphs. Once staff, crew, or plant operators have an idea about what they want to measure I get them to make their own graphs to track it from shift to shift. These eventually move to a spread sheet but the key is that each person creates their own tracking system (graph) that makes sense to them and is easy to input information into. It doesn't have to be high tech.
All that is left then is for you as a leader to give them an opportunity to report their results. This could be one on one as you spend time touching base with them. It could be at start or end of shift meetings or regular staff meetings. Getting staff to report their results ties them clearly to what they are tracking and they "own" it much more quickly. The point is that these things don't need to be complicated. In fact, you should make sure they are not complicated. Once you do these things watch and see how your team will transform. Performance Leadership - Think About It!
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