Jasmeet Kohli

Friday 3 August 2018

Improvement Projects - Are they Really Needed?

Problems in business organizations are a common phenomenon these days. Most of the business organizations try to solve these problems with a one off action. But another problem crops up somewhere else in the organization. The problems keep on occurring again and again unless and until the business organization is forced to take some drastic action. Meanwhile, while the problems keep on occurring repeatedly, important organization resources are deployed to keep on solving these problems rather than focusing their efforts towards advancement of business and finding ways to help the organization to grow and expand and this is the reason why Importance of Identifying the Improvement Project should be properly taken care of.
Solving business problems with such actions is like grabbing a balloon filled with air with hands to try to suppress the balloon. One grabs one side of the balloon; the air escapes to some other part and collects over there. Again taking action in that part is repeating the same process again. Hence, it is imperative for a business organization to have a structured way of solving business problems.
Lean principles combined with Six Sigma provide an excellent way of solving all kind of business problems in an organized manner. Business problems should be handled in a structured manner and it is advisable to establish a proper structure to handle these problems and make decision making easy for leaders to decide whether the problem requires a full Six Sigma project or can be solved by just applying the Lean principles. An important feature in this is to have knowledge whether solution for the problem found is known or not known.
Let us understand this with the help of an example. If a particular process is not achieving its target and the problem is known to the management or people working in the project, then a simple exercise of Value Stream Mapping may be enough to solve the problem. It would identify all the Non-Value Added items in the process flow and design steps to eliminate them. Only those steps would remain in the process which are either productive or are required for completion or act as input of another productive step. Similarly, if a problem is occurring and there is no idea about why the problem is occurring, then it is better to undertake a full Six Sigma project in this case. The problem will be completely dissected to come at a conclusion and arrive at a Goal statement. The data so collected will be fully analyzed to arrive at conclusions and implement an action plan to improve the process and eliminate the problems in the process.
Lack of a problem solving & improvement structure in a business organization leads to complacency which may be ok when things are right but can prove to be disastrous when things are not looking good. Establishing such a structure leads to a culture change where every person working in the organization constantly looks to do his job better with improvements. Such a culture eventually makes a small and mid-sized company the leader in their fields of business.

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