Measurement is the first improvement step

Chris HOHMANNIt’s a kind of magic and it works every time: setup some indicators to measure something and this very something will automatically start improving, without any other action.

Well, it looks a kind of magic but is a very human trait. People pay attention, stick to the rules and behave from the moment they can be spotted not doing it.

Indicators, dashboards, measurement systems are such means used to surface and analyze problems down to their root cause, including behaviors and deviations.

As nobody wants to be singled out as an ugly outlaw, those who did not always stick to the rules or behave, inclined to be messy or sloppy will straighten their behaviors and adjust to the rules.

If they don’t do it wholeheartedly, they do it to avoid (personal) problems.

People generally choose the easiest path; if sticking to the rules and behaving is “easier” than trying to get around, they’ll stick and behave.

Setting up some measurement means keeping an eye on something and as soon as it is known, behaviors change and things improve. I have witnessed this often.

  • Spare parts inventories are not accurate ? Setup measurement of inputs and outputs and by whom or at least when, the latter often being enough to focus on (a group of) individuals, and the inventory will instantly be kept better. Everybody will sign for the parts issued and won’t take more than really needed. Those still “forgetting” to book parts will soon be discovered and they’ll learn it’s faster and easier to book parts than to give explanations to the boss.
  • OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is low? Set Up a poster with OEE value per shift and the split of productivity losses and OEE will improve without even starting any other action. Most of the time, the first thing team members do (if applies) is stop taking more rest time than allowed. Thus having more run time, OEE improves.

Installing proper measurement is simple and yields quick results. A trick known by seasoned practitioners.


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