In business, we frequently play a version of “Pass It On,” not intentionally but all the same when company procedures are not clearly defined and documented. Without a solid step by step framework to ensure job tasks are completed successfully each time, operations can easily be disrupted by a multitude of potential snags and roadblocks. Each stoppage translates into lost time, profits, and – ultimately – customers.
Not convinced? Ok, let’s play the “15 Steps” game. Start by picking a procedure or process you are required to complete as part of your job. Select something that is critical to your company’s success. Grab a piece of paper and write down each required step necessary to get the task done. Don’t worry if your process has more or fewer steps than 15. Just make sure each step and substep that exist are written down. Once the list is complete, think back to the last time you executed the task. Were you able to complete each step without running into a roadblock? Did an error occur? Where certain ingredients or components lacking? Put a red “X” by each step where you ran into a problem. Next, think back two times ago when you did the task and add a blue “X” by each step where problems happened. Not a pretty picture, if each “X” costs money or time.
Next, you need to investigate the reason behind each “X.” Job tasks will break down when too many variations are introduced. Both controllable and uncontrollable sources can contribute to stoppages. Known as the “5Ms + 1P,” Lean Six Sigma practitioners focus on six categories (machine, methods, materials, manufacturing, mother nature, and people) when looking to identify the root cause of why procedures fail.
Start by brainstorming ideas on how each roadblock could have been averted. Writing all of your ideas down will help to form a complete picture of the problem and potential solutions. Next, select the best solution for each problem and jot it down by the “X.” Sometimes the solutions will require the addition of multiple steps. Try to provide details and insight for each new addition. As you work through the exercise, the goal is to identify steps that can be repeated each and every time with success. At times, special causes will create unavoidable roadblocks, but these expectations should be infrequent bumps in the overall process. A good explanation of a special cause is mother nature. The results of the “15 Steps” game will provide an easy-to-understand process map that will lead to better overall success rates for you and your company.
At TwoPointO, we help customers eliminate chaos by training them how to identify problems and implement solutions to achieve their biggest goals. Contact us today to learn more about how process mapping and Lean Six Sigma tools can be used to increase your business’ efficiency.