Chunk it or Choke on it!

Jon Wetzel

We’ve finished the future state map on how to fix the entire system but it’s going to take us at least a year, involve a ton of man hours and cost a lot of money.  It also involves every department and it’s going to triple our daily work load until we get all the bugs worked out.”  Have you heard this before?  Did the idea flash and then fizzle?  Next time….Chunk it!

Rush and Crash

I’ve seen a lot of projects suck the life blood out of a company.  Everyone wants to get started ASAP so they all dive into their respective areas and start changing their workflows.  The dilemma is when the changes are implemented out of sequence it’s like having a water pipe break in 3 places.  Nothing flows thru the system anymore and everyone cries… “Let’s go back to the old way. At least that worked!”

After this happens once the ability to get buy in on another improvement project diminishes exponentially.  Everyone remembers the hard work, the failure and the cost of tossing it all in the trash.  These projects all had pet names like SOLVER or CRIMS that get shouted by “saber rattlers” to why we don’t ever want to do that again. 

Never bite off more than you can chew

A good PMP (Project Management Professional) would be able to whip up a Gantt chart to get you on a stepwise track however let me give you some sage lean advice.  Break your project into smaller incremental improvements.

These improvements should be

  • Part of the required framework to move toward the future state.
  • Small enough to show some type of improvement.
  • Deployed, tested and measured to see the improvement.
  • Able to be reversed quickly in case something goes horribly awry.

 By showing incremental improvements you will keep everyone emotionally charged that things are getting better.

You should never achieve the future state.  Huh?

A future state map is to give you a visual goal to the best possible process you can build with the information you have at that time.  In 3 or more months, you might find new information or technology that requires you to revisit and change your future state map.

You should be continually looking at your progress and at all the information and then updating the future state map.  Small incremental improvements allow you to reap the benefits of a goal driven future state map while still giving you the flexibility to change your destination.

True Story

The company had an end to end processing time of about 80 days.  Thru incremental improvements the processing times dropped by ½ every 3-4 months.  In a year the time was down to 3 days, the employees were excited to come to work, revenues were up and the board was excited to see all the improvements and the ROI.

Within each 3-4 month block there were 10-20 small improvements tested.  Some of them were successful and became part of the process and others were quickly stopped.  Most important is that they didn’t try to accomplish it all in one big BITE.

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