Know Where to Focus – how to spot the Pacesetter in your process

Prefer to watch rather than readClick here – 5 mins with captions.

You don’t want to waste your money and your people’s time by not working on the highest leverage point of the system.  Here’s how to make sure you get this right.

In a previous post I went through the importance of Not Bothering the Barista.  I know I’m a broken record on this, but once again:

If a process must go through A, B and C to get to the customer and the number in each box represents how many they can do per period, then the system can’t go any faster than B.  And rather than using the term ‘constraint’ or ‘bottleneck’, I use ‘Pacesetter’ because it’s, well, nicer.

And conveniently B is the first letter of ‘Barista’, which will always be the Pacesetter in a café.  Therefore, Don’t Bother the Barista!

All of this comes from Eli Goldratt in his book The Goal, where he even lays out five steps for improvement, the first of which is of course (in my words)

Identify the Pacesetter.

Here’s some ways to do that.

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Don’t Bother the Barista – make any work system better

Prefer to watch on video than read?  Click here, 6 mins with captions.

If you’ve been with me for a while, chances are I’ve run through this with you.  The purpose of this is to put it all in the one spot.

This is about understanding the focussing point required to get any system (any system) to work better.  And by ‘better’, I mean better for customers, better for those working in it, and better for the bank balance and purpose of the organisation too.

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The WIP Secret – 4x increase in throughput with one simple change

Why read when you can watch on videoClick here – 5 mins, with captions.

You can increase the throughput of your show hugely with one simple change.

For real life.

But don’t take my word for it, let’s turn to one of the total gurus – Eli Goldratt

As part of the brilliant Goldratt Satellite Program, which you can still buy and watch the legend himself (I’m not associated with it BTW), he tells the story about the maintenance area of the Israeli Air Force.

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Thinking of an ERP? You got to know when to hold ‘em.

Prefer to watch rather than read?  Just click here to watch the video – 5 mins, with captions.

The ubiquitous ERP – technically “Enterprise Resource Planning”, the technology system that in theory connects up all of your stuff so the magic can happen…and in reality, the cause of significant pain and ongoing justifications throughout many organisations.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re anywhere near one of these – it’s not too late.

Introducing Gerry Fish

This is actually a story about Gerry Fish – a fictional character in one of the brilliant Eli Goldratt’s last books called Necessary But Not Sufficient.

I would make this compulsory reading for anyone involved in deciding about ERPs…particularly CEOs.  From Goldratt’s description,  I reckon Gerry would look like this:

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Utilisation Obsession – why your organisation is in permanently clogged chaos

If you’d prefer to watch on video than read, click here!

A state of overload and chaos has become sadly normal in organisations.  Here’s the thing – it comes from a very natural condition – an obsession with utilisation.   I’ll explain…

These ideas originated from one of the all-time gurus – Eli Goldratt.

Way Basic Work System

To demonstrate, I’ll draw my favourite diagram that my long-time clients will recognise (with one change):

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An extra month of capacity for free: Three Cs – Capacity

(Click here to watch on video rather than read!)

In the first two articles in this series, I went through the first two of the Three Cs that need to be in place so you can get out of the detail and start doing your real job. The three Cs are:

(Click the links above to go the articles or click here to watch them all on video).

This article is about Capacity, which answers “How can I create more time for myself and my people which means I can do the important work that I’m actually paid for”.

Read more…

Why Your Organisation Is Busy Yet Nothing Gets Done (blame Michael)

OK, if you haven’t seen this before, this will land somewhere between ‘nice one’ and ‘holy freakin’ #@&* what have we been doing’.

It’s the reason why your whole organisation, your team, and you yourself have the permanent feeling of too much on and nowhere near enough of that ‘let’s get after it and get it done‘ vibe.

It’s the reason why whenever I ask ‘how’s things?‘ the answer I get is the wry smile, shake of the head, then ‘you know….flat out as always, you know how it is‘.

Yes, I do know how it is.

So let me set it up for you.  As always, I didn’t invent this stuff, I’m here to make genius useful when I find it, and this comes from Eli Goldratt’s Critical Chain, and further made sense of by Rob Newbold and Bill Lynch in The Project Manifesto.

It goes like this, which is deliberately over-simple: Read more…

How to stop your culture of busy busy and start delivering

“Everyone around here is just too busy being busy” sighed Merryn.  Her business employed 250 people, it was growing and she was feeling the strain.

“How can you tell?” I asked.

“Because everyone time I ask someone ‘how’s things’, I get the same response…a roll of the eyes and  ‘just busy….flat out… know how it is’.  And things are stalling.  Lots of action, no results.”

“What would you like to be hearing?”

“It would be great” Merryn continued, “if someone would say  ‘I’m focussed, in the flow and we’re all delivering.  Feeling great‘”

“So what are your people working on then?”

Merryn looked puzzled for a second, then replied “Lots of stuff – business-as-usual, we’ve got improvements to the warehouse operation underway, legislative change coming, our IT systems need an upgrade, the usual product development, and on top of that, we’re trying to find ways to innovate so we can play in some new fields”.

“Sounds pretty busy busy” I replied.  “So if I’m sitting there with a choice as to what to work on next, which one do you want me to do?” Read more…

The (not so) hidden key to integrating business units

“I’ve got some issues between my two key General Managers” said Ingvild, the CEO.

“Lucky there’s a CEO then” I replied, “but I guess you’re not exactly feeling lucky”.

She laughed.  “Not so much.”

“Tell me what’s happening”

“Well you know Sue, she’s our GM of Development.  Her job is to come up with what’s next.  We discuss as an Exec team, in the end I make decisions about where we want to be in five years or so, whether it fits our purpose,  and her area is there to develop the offers and the opportunities in those new areas.”

“OK.  Who else?”

“Janet.  She’s our GM of Operations, and she’s there to bring into existence the stuff that Sue is confident is viable as well as deliver the usual stuff.  So it’s sort of like ‘Sue tests and learns, confirms viability, Janet plays a part in this, then once we’re go, Janet’s area integrates the new stuff into Operations.  How she does this is up to her, sometimes it changes one of her areas, other times she starts a new area.”

“Right.  So what’s the problem?” I asked.

“Well, it’s basically infighting.” Ingvild continued. “And the crux of it is that Janet’s Ops area thinks Sue’s Development area is unreasonable.”

“Are they?”

“Well…I don’t think so.  I’ve seen R&D or Development areas before, and Sue is solid.  Not slow by any means, but not churning stuff out at a rate that’s unreasonable.”

“And what does Janet say from the Ops view?”

“She and her people say that Sue’s area has no idea the pressure they are under, that they don’t have time for new stuff all the time.  But I’ve got a problem with ‘no new stuff’, because as you keep reminding us, without development this is going to eventually lead to us falling gently off a cliff as our offerings gradually become old school.”

“Is Ops right in their view.  Do they not have time for new stuff?”

“Well, that’s the thing.  I look at what Operations produces, they’re working hard, getting stuff done at a rate that’s pretty impressive”.

I sat and waited for her to go on.  After a while she continued.

“So I’m at a loss.  I’ve got a situation with two competent GMs, I’m happy with both of them, but together, it’s just not happening.  And before you go on…” she smiled….”I am fully aware that this is my problem and no one else’s.”

“That will save us a lot of time” I laughed.  “So here’s what happening.  The work of your team is not integrated“. Read more…