Waste is usually the lowest hanging fruit

Recently, I posted an excerpt from an article by Vinay Couto, Deniz Caglar, and John Plansky for strategy+business magazine, published by PwC Strategy& LLC. In the article, Building Trust While Cutting Costs, they discuss how, during a restructuring, rumors spread and fear takes hold. You can reduce the turmoil by finding ways to inform, empower, and inspire employees.

It really is possible to earn workers’ trust while cutting costs. Their active engagement should be strongly encouraged and appreciated.

Over the years while working closely with the leaders of hundreds of different organizations, helping them to improve business systems and processes, I urged them to focus on the areas in which the greatest waste of resources occurs, especially time.

Here are two:

o Cycle time: How long does it take to complete a production process that begins with raw materials and concludes with a finished product? Be especially alert for delays.

o First-pass yield: How long does it take to complete a task (e.g. updating a database of past, current, and prospective customers? Again, be especially alert for delays.

Process improvement requires accurate measurement, of course, but also a focus on the identification of root causes rather than symptoms.

Finally, keep in mind this observation by Peter Drucker in 1963: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

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