Productivity Explosion!

What is the best kept secret to improving company productivity?  It is possible to achieve 10 fold increases in productivity following a very simple approach.

Most people would say either I need more time or my company needs more people and we would become more productive.  The problem with those statements is that they don’t deal with the real issue.  90% of the time people are busy and only 10% of the time they are adding value to the organization.  The secret is to get people working on the important stuff more and doing less of the unimportant stuff. 

Easier said than done.

I work with a lot of companies that try to just get stuff done.  People begin creating endless lists of tasks that need to be done and then try to reduce those tasks on the list.  This may in the short term give someone a short burst in productivity the same way a good project manager does when overseeing a project.

 It just is not sustainable!  People burn out and eventually lose energy to create the lists.  We will always slip back to our old ways if a new method isn’t deployed.

Gears and People demonstrating productivity

Productivity Secret

So what is the best kept secret?  ESSA

I will attribute ESSA to Wayne Fortuna the former CEO of Hutchinson Technology.  ESSA is an acronym that stands for Eliminate, Simplify, Standardize and Automate.  This concept has been used in manufacturing for years but is now becoming popular in all forms of business. 

When done correctly ESSA improves productivity, allow people to spend more time on valuable activities and eventually lower costs in the organization substantially.

1)      Eliminate.  The most crucial element of the whole approach.  Productivity by definition is doing more with less.  The elimination of activities and processes that simply are not needed is the first step in the journey.   To eliminate activities people need to be honest and give up doing things the way they have always been done.  

Do not confuse eliminate with automate.  When you automate bad processes you simply are automating waste and get to the bad parts quicker.  Technology sales groups are very good at demonstrating their technology under ideal conditions making it seem as all your problems will disappear through automation.  The reality is people are not very comfortable with the removal of activities and tasks because it defines the job they currently are doing at work.

Want to know how you have issues that need elimination?.  Look at your financials and see where your costs are and ask the question – What is the customer willing to pay for and do my costs align to that notion?  If not you may have many tasks and activities that need to be eliminated.  Especially if those costs are indirect costs.

2)      Simplify.   Once you get rid of the stuff you shouldn’t be doing it is time to simplify what is left.  Simpler approach leads to less quality issues and is always more reliable.  More importantly happier people.  The frustrations of dealing with complex processes makes people crabby at work

How long does it take to get work done in your company?  How many meetings are needed to resolve issues?  Do you feel like to accomplish simple tasks it takes hours if not days.  Simple hang-ups in the morning lead to all day long activities.  These are all clues that your processes need simplification.

If this is your situation your processes need simplification.  Simplification does not mean jeopardize the output just simply getting more done with less effort.   To simplify a process requires duplication and errors be removed.

3)      Standardize.  A simple process by every individual in the system is not scalable.  A simple process adopted by everyone in the system is scalable.  This notion of scalability leads to massive gains in productivity.  

The universal adoption of a consistent process in the system is the definition of standard.  When processes get standardized the become both more reliable and higher quality.  Standardized processes do not necessarily imply lack of customization simply it means consistency in the system.  A design process can be consistent and yield highly unique and customized products.

Without standardization companies cannot automate processes.  The only way to scale to more demand without standardization is to hire more people.  In today’s labor market the lack of available people makes growth without standardization nearly impossible.

One important element to consider with standardization is that the true gains come when both the process and the management systems become standardized.  Most organizations focus on the standardization of the processes, however, management needs to have mechanisms on how to review the results (dashboards) of the process and have consistent decision making frameworks to best utilize and capitalize on the gains made by the process.

4)      Automate.  Automation is the process of taking well run processes and adding technology to maximize the final steps in productivity.  When companies automate poorly run processes, the company is automating the wastes in the process in addition to the work.  Automation is  fairly expensive activity to undertake and the automation of wastes will reduce the payback of the investment.

Automation will deliver consistent results, high quality if done correctly and ultimately that productivity explosion.  This productivity gain can then be used to lower costs or reinvest in growth. In the end ESSA when done correctly has a significant impact on the bottom line.

The ability to transform your personal or organizational productivity is a progression.  Each of these steps will have significant impact to productivity.  When done in the proper sequence and taken all the way to automation productivity can jump 10 fold.

If you would like more information on how Olson Institute can help your firm improve productivity do not hesitate to contact us and we can schedule a time to chat.