Reading about Process Improvement

Reading Books Over the weekend, I found myself trying to read a physical book about systems analysis while listening to a book on operational process improvement.  I'm not going to go into the physical book because I am so impressed with the audio book.  I guess it wouldn't matter if it was physical, digital, or audio.  It's just a really really good book! It's titled: The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt (yes, if someone clicks on that link and buys a book, I would get credit)

Though the story reads like fiction, in its introduction of characters and story, it does an amazing job of introducing concepts to the reader.  The main character manages a production plant, where everything is always behind schedule and things are looking pretty bad. (Sound like any projects you know?)  The production plant is doing so poorly, the company has given the main character an ultimatum.   With a threat of closure, the plant has three months to turn operations from being unprofitable and chronically late on deliveries to being profitable and successful.  In the book, we are introduced to the Socratic method. Throughout the book, a character poses questions to another or a member of a team, which in turn causes them to talk amongst themselves to come up with a solution to their problem.

Because the book revolves around manufacturing and not application development or project management, there are a few dotted lines that need to be drawn.  But, overall, it really got my wheels spinning.  It doesn't matter if you're using Kanban or if you're in any type of management position, I would recommend this book.

One quote really stuck with me

Intuitive conclusions (common sense) are commonly masked by common practice

Process Improvement

The following lists some of the ways that processes can be improved.

  • Reduce work-in-process (WIP) inventory to reduce lead time
  • Add additional resources to increase capacity of the bottleneck
  • Improve the efficiency of the bottleneck activity to increase process capacity
  • Move work away from bottleneck resources where possible to increase process capacity
  • Increase availability of bottleneck resources to increase process capacity
  • Minimize non-value adding activities to decrease cost and reduce lead time

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