The Lean Enterprise published “Learning to See” in the early 90’s, a Value Stream Mapping manual that should form part of every change agent’s lean library. In 2010, Thinking People launched our own workbook entitled “Value Stream Mapping (Implementing Speed, Flexibility & Flow) that builds on the concepts from “Learning to See”, by incorporating important
principles from Lean Six Sigma, Complexity Management and Theory of Constraints. This remains a powerful tool to help you evaluate your business from a different perspective, see the current performance and visualise the future potential.
Thinking People discovered there is a different kind of “Learning to See” happening off the shores of South Africa. Through the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) and Amaglubglub Club, support is provided to individuals with disabilities to cultivate physical and social
well-being through the sport of scuba. We were pleased to learn they are developing the first blind diver in South Africa, Mayurie, who will take to the waters around November this year to complete her certification. Thinking People is privileged to sponsor Mayurie and assist her in realising her dream, where not only will she experience nature from a different perspective, but she will take her own personal development to new heights through this opportunity.
Although she is unable to see in the traditional sense, Mayurie’s dive is no less rewarding than for seeing divers - she just visualises and experiences in a different way:
Underwater animal life is heard and felt with far more intensity when these are the senses most relied upon.
The reef is a massive, living playground where a number of sounds are heard in concert such as water pushing sand over the reef, turtles feeding and small creatures moving slowly over the reef unseen by the naked eye.
The impact of the water and bubbles on skin and hair are intense and therapeutic, and the feeling of weightlessness ensures a safe environment to navigate and explore the reef.
A seeing dive buddy who takes care of the safety aspects of the experience, uses a unique underwater “language” to ensure the blind diver is exposed to all the sensations the dive has to offer.
Change agents can certainly learn something from Mayurie’s story. It takes great courage to move out of your comfort zone to take on a new challenge and test your abilities in new ways. You will be confronted with barriers to change in your own continuous improvement initiatives, where it will be easier to abandon the war than face the battles.
Maintaining focus, deliberation and tackling one hurdle after the next, will provide a unparalleled learning experience that will continue to prepare the change agent for trials to come.
We encourage you to move forward and “learn to see” your business from a new perspective, and capitalise on the benefits it will bring to both business results and personal growth.
Linking Operational Excellence to the Bottom Line – Fact or Fallacy?
Do these questions concern you?
• How do we reduce costs and get the benefit to flow straight into the profits?
• How do we ensure all the improvement focus will in fact yield a financial benefit?
• How can we improve leadership buy-in to initiate and facilitate improvement activities?
Don’t be fooled. Operational Excellence is not all about money and cost reduction. However, it is a fundamental requirement from shareholders and customers that more value be provided through the better use of resources. If this is done in a data-driven, responsible, mutually beneficial manner, it will assist in moving the organisation to new heights of performance and pave the way for further growth. An added benefit is the leadership buy-in for change efforts will only strengthen, when a compelling business case for change is taken into account.
We believe the achievement of your cost-reduction goals is a two-fold approach: you need to hit the right buttons where the costs can be impacted, and you need to remember this is a strategy that requires the involvement and development of people along the way.
Does our organisation have high-level goals for cost reduction? For e.g. the business goal is to reduce working capital by 18% in the coming year.
Do we have business objectives to help us achieve these goals? For e.g. to achieve the working capital reduction, it is clear we need to:
Reduce the cash-cash cycle by 27 days.
Reduce expenditure by 25%.
Cut down inventory holding (responsibly) by R20million.
Do we understand the cost drivers sitting behind each of these objectives? For e.g.:
Cash-cash cycle is driven by debtors days, creditors days and lead time to deliver.
Have we evaluated the unnecessary and avoidable losses affecting these cost drivers that should be targeted for improvement?
Can we financially quantify the impact each improvement project will have on these cost drivers? Have we prioritised them?
Does our measurement system for each project help create the link between improvement effort and bottom line impact?
It makes sense to have the right team involved in this evaluation, to grow ownership for each project and ensure the development and learning is taking place. Select individuals with the right decision making power and level of control and help them discover how they can turn improvement effort into results.
A comprehensive range of workbooks to assist you in developing your improvement and execution strategy for change. Includes theory, templates and exercises to practically apply in your own environment.
It is with deep regret, we learn that on 11th June 2011, Dr. Eliyahu M Goldratt passed away at his home in Israel in the company of his family and close friends.
Many of you will be familiar with the Israeli physicist turned business management guru, who pioneered principles such as Theory of Constraints and several other TOC-derived tools, which changed the way we view business and seek improvement focus. Eli authored several books well worth adding to your reading list, in particular, “The Goal” and his more recent work, “Velocity”.
Our sincere condolences to the Goldratt family, and may his wisdom live on through those who practice his principles.