Having worked as a mechanical engineer in the manufacturing industry for twenty years where efficiency is the name of the game, I have been exposed to a number of situations which didn’t require engineering solutions. In fact, there is a formula which unfailingly succeeds in improving outputs. It’s called the ‘CLAMP’ system.
Challenge the status quo.
The most common answer I get when I ask why a process is performed in a certain manner is: ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Mindset is the number one barrier to change; and the best tool you have to break it is perseverance. There is no magic formula to create change, just be sure your hard-headedness is greater than the resistance you encounter.
Listen to the voice on the shopfloor.
The voice has many forms; from the newbie full of suggestions to the grumpy geezer everyone avoids on their lunch break. The best ideas come from the people who work on the process daily. They have their finger on the pulse, and although most suggestions would be aimed at reducing the work load, there will be that one idea which will make listening to the other complaints worthwhile.
The first two points are useless if they don’t inspire action. I use a simple method called the ‘3F’ system. That is; feedback, follow-up and feedback. A word of caution, if this system is used, it must be followed religiously; there’s nothing more frustrating than having someone spend their time telling you their ideas and then nothing gets done. The time I failed to follow the 3F system earned me a fourth F, followed by a ‘you’ from the aforementioned geezer.
Measure the improvements
When something is measured, targets can be set. It makes it much easier to get everyone working towards the same goal. When it comes to measuring, keep it as simple as possible; there is no need for complicated formulas. Measuring hourly outputs and having them displayed on a board is usually sufficient.
Present the results
Nothing is more motivating than having achievements displayed for all to see. It can vary from an A4 paper placed on a notice board to a power slides presented to management. It will be the culmination of months of hard work, but they would have been worth it.
One last word of advice; in the presentation make sure to include a special mention for the geezer or you’ll never hear the end of it.