There is an old story that if you drop a frog into boiling water he will jump out. But if you put the frog into cold water and turn up the heat, he will slowly cook to death. While somewhat gruesome, that is an apt description of what happens when organizations lack Operations Discipline. They slowly die due to increased costs, increased inventory, employee frustration and weak customer service.
So, what is operations discipline? It is the willingness to create and follow processes/rules and hold people accountable for performing them. In lean speak, it includes standard work. In standard work, each process is defined and performed the same way every time. This takes randomness out of the process which improves quality and provides a foundation for continuous improvement.
Recently I have seen a number of companies whose culture does not hold people accountable for following process. Things as simple as having standard part number structures are either non-existent or are not enforced. The result is excessive part numbers, increased inventory, increased costs, increased obsolescence and other things that look like the frog slowly cooking. Turn the heat off – implement operations discipline.
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