Whilst working with a team on improving a particular workstream, we spent days wading through data trying to make sense of it and analysing it, we process mapped, did Pareto charts on the data we had, used SPC, Mean Value Theorem plus no small amount of debate. After all this, we were still unsure what to do as we found quite a few errors and omissions in the data. In the end, we decided to just go and have a look and see what we can see on site.
Not to put too fine a point on it, we found out that our detailed process map was definitely not the same as the process we observed, and that our Pareto charts were also telling a different story!
Now, I’m not saying here to not try to analyse data or carry out process mapping, just that maybe its best to actually “go see” first. This is because very often there are “assumptions” about the way a process works and, also when process mapping, there is a really strong tendency to map what “should” happen as opposed to what “does” happen.
Key Learning points
- When trying to improve a process, spend some time up front at the “coal face” to see what happens in reality
- Try to back this up with data and analyse the data with benefit of what was observed.
- Very often small improvements can be made immediately following a direct observation exercise, so why wait?!
- Don’t forget to involve the “process experts” (those being observed) and make them part of the activity. Their contribution is often gold dust!