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Oper­a­tional Excellence

Renoir In Action: Do you want the prob­lem or the symp­tom to go away?

June 19, 2019

A friend of mine was recent­ly regal­ing me with tales of air­port queues and delays all across Europe. His own flight had been delayed, spoil­ing his din­ner plans. The rea­son giv­en – ‘Delayed due to the late arrival of the incom­ing aircraft’.

I must admit that I had a laugh, though I could sym­pa­thise. Jok­ing­ly I told him that they didn’t quite get to the root cause of the prob­lem there! And that got me thinking…

Ear­ly on in my last project I came across sim­i­lar ‘caus­es’ for fre­quent pro­duc­tion delays, expe­dit­ed ship­ment costs, ware­house block­ages and missed tar­gets. Now, I know the air­line will, in all prob­a­bil­i­ty, have done the cor­rect root cause analy­sis (or RCA) and know the true cause of the delay, or at least I would hope so. How­ev­er my expe­ri­ence work­ing at the sharp end of oper­a­tions work­streams across all indus­tries world­wide sug­gests there are usu­al­ly gaps in man­age­ment systems.

If you have a well-managed, lean and focused com­pa­ny, these gaps will prob­a­bly not be sub­stan­tial and you will have man­age­ment con­trols in place to inves­ti­gate and cor­rect. But how sure are you that this is the case?

As an exam­ple, on a pre­vi­ous project I dis­cov­ered that it was accept­able for late deliv­er­ies of raw mate­ri­als to be assigned to the rea­son ‘late truck deliv­ery’. How­ev­er these delays could some­times be very seri­ous, result­ing in pro­duc­tion loss­es and the shut­down of whole plants!

Issues like this are often left unad­dressed because the resources, includ­ing human ones, need­ed to fix them are just not avail­able. How­ev­er this isn’t accept­able in today’s high­ly com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment. Our Renoir analy­sis iden­ti­fied a lack of train­ing, prop­er man­age­ment con­trols and mea­sures and severe process gaps, all of which were ham­per­ing strong efforts by the company’s own staff to improve per­for­mance before we arrived. Their senior man­age­ment made the deci­sion to move for­ward with the pro­pos­al the Renoir analy­sis team put for­ward, and we didn’t let them down.

We designed and installed per­for­mance met­rics (KPIs), ini­ti­at­ed dai­ly and week­ly reviews and thor­ough­ly redesigned their RCA sys­tems along with numer­ous oth­ers. Late deliv­er­ies would now be tracked back to iden­ti­fy the real caus­es so rel­e­vant cor­rec­tive and pre­ven­ta­tive action could be tak­en. As a result stock could now be cor­rect­ly repo­si­tioned, trans­port com­pa­nies mea­sured against tar­gets, re-order lev­els adjust­ed appro­pri­ate­ly, and so on. By putting these mea­sures in place, as part of a com­plete man­age­ment con­trol sys­tem, we were able to sur­pass the client’s expectations.

Now it’s my guess that in our pri­vate lives, we’ll all still have to accept such poor excus­es for things going wrong as ‘late arrival of the incom­ing air­craft’. But in the work­place, we shouldn’t accept them, or their impact on the bot­tom line. When things go wrong, in order to under­stand what hap­pened, you need to be con­fi­dent that you can get to the bot­tom of why. If you’re not there yet, or feel that the gaps in your sys­tems and process­es could best be iden­ti­fied and closed by experts in this area, it might be worth think­ing about engag­ing Renoir. You won’t be disappointed.

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