Houston, We Have a Problem
We've all been in that meeting. You know, the one where we talk about the number of widgets that need to be assembled by a certain date and the fact that our teams are not assembling them at the pace we intended. I affectionately call this the "ut-oh" meeting.
The "ut-oh" meeting is all-too-common, but the good news is that it's completely avoidable if you can identify and mitigate the top three reasons causing your production issues.
Management Doesn't Own the Process
As a manager or executive, the buck stops with you. Quite frankly, you need to break the habit of thinking (and saying), "I have people for that" because what that really means is: "I do not fully understand the processes that my people follow on a day-to-day basis."
Re-learning the basics and viewing processes from a point-and-click perspective will liberate you. I recognize many of you are long-removed from the minutiae of analyst work, but the reason you ascended to management was due to your past success as a do-er.
Avoid the temptation to delegate and invest time in knowing, developing, and actively enhancing your process. I guarantee that you will immediately identify areas where significant time can be saved and efficiencies can be created.
Management has to create, drive, and analyze process - no excuses, you need to own it.
You Do Not Possess Valuable Metrics
These days, it seems like everything is metrics based - from the way we look at presidential polling to the number of "likes" on your Instagram photo. Everything is tracked and analyzed. Production data is no different.
Embrace and adopt a data-driven approach. Create valuable production metrics, which are more than merely "time per widget" and "widget per person". You need to invest the time (and the money) to create real-time, value-added performance metrics: time per task; cost per task; quality ratios for employees; ROI metrics for higher-priced employees; Friday and Monday production volatility; internet usage statistics; flexible head count analyses, and the list goes on.
There are plenty of ways to slice-and-dice data, but having access to meaningful numbers will limit production problems before they begin.
Meaningless Meetings - the Sneaky Killer
Meaningless meetings are a dangerous infection that will utterly destroy the health and well-being of your operation. Meaningless meetings create two serious problems: (1) they eat away at valuable production time; and (2) they create an environment where attendees become overly reliant on collaboration instead of independent decision making.
Are all meetings bad? No. Is collaboration bad? No. But it is bad to call a meeting when a tightly worded email would suffice, it is bad to meet for 60 minutes when 15 is adequate, and it is bad to allow meetings to usurp independent thought.
Meaningless meetings will destroy productivity and independent thought if you let them. Every month, take a look at your team's calendars and eliminate meaningless meetings wherever you can. You have my word that production will increase significantly as a result.