Name and origin does not matter, what matters is if we can take advantage of the same or not.
It’s a Japanese concept for continuous improvement originally used by Toyota, and then adopted world over. But name and origin does not matter, what matters is if we can take advantage of the same or not. It is a process in which employees are involved in bringing positive changes to the work processes to improve things.
Who knows their operations better than the individuals performing a job day in and day out for weeks, months and years? So why not ask these people if something can be improved. And to encourage them providing feedback, individuals to be rewarded accordingly.
Let’s take an example. You go to your work place every day using a public bus, a rickshaw, a taxi, your bicycle, motorbike or car. Over a period, you would pretty much know:
- the times traffic is slightly better or not
- the road lanes that generally move faster
- the routes that are suitable at certain times
- the mode of transport is less time consuming, costs less and/or is less tiring, and so on.
If you are working at the same place for 5 years, which is not very uncommon, you travel the same route for almost 1400 times both ways. Naturally you would know this route and all above very well and very confidently figure out the above, based on your 1400 times travel experience.
Now compare yourself with a factory worker on an assembly line or a block maker or someone else who do same work repeatedly all day. In some cases, these people may be performing the exact same task/work several times or may be 100s of times in a day or a week; days after days, weeks after weeks, months after months and/or years after years. Who would know this task/work better than them? They would exactly know what is good or bad, what takes more time or less, what takes more effort or less, what is more tiring or less tiring, what creates more waste or less etc. etc. Any doubt?
If such workers take that initiative or are provided with an opportunity to provide constructive feedback on how to improve things and are rewarded for doing so, don’t you think they can make great recommendations that will not only make the task more efficient but cost effective too?
And that’s exactly what this idea of TPS (Toyota Production System) is all about.
- Reach out to workers seeking ideas/suggestions to improve things
- Set up creativity/process improvements committees at all levels
- Consider and evaluate all ideas/suggestions
- Implement ideas/suggestions that are practical and end up in saving either in cost, time or effort should be implemented
- Acknowledge and reward all involved in submitting and evaluating such ideas
- Make following and continuing the above approach part of regular business process
- End up in producing/delivering better quality products and service at less cost
- Earn happy, loyal and motivated work force and better work environment
How to implement
- At the highest level
- Create an idea suggestion email address or idea box that only the CEO or some senior executive has access to
- Create an idea grievance email address or grievance idea box that only the CEO or some senior executive has access to
- Create an idea email/form template, with an auto generated unique sequential number, to enable everyone suggest ideas
- Get the idea forms, with two carbon copies, placed near all entrances, exits, prayer rooms, washrooms, lunchrooms and any other rooms/areas that are of common use
- Hold a town hall to announce and explain the program and process
- Periodically park the emails/forms/grievances received in a safe location where no one else has access, for later reference
- Establish a central evaluation committee with representation from all key departments
- Ensure that the central evaluation committee meets every 3 months to review all escalated ideas
- Instruct the central evaluation committee to submit recommendations to the CEO/Board on all practical and valuable ideas
- At the department level
- Create a departmental suggestion email address or departmental suggestion box that only the department head has access to
- Departmental head or designated individual should periodically park the emails and forms received in a safe location where no one else has access, for later reference
- A departmental evaluation committee, excluding departmental head, with representation from all key sub-departments to be established
- Departmental evaluation committee to meet every month to review all escalated suggestions
- Departmental evaluation committee to submit recommendations to the Central evaluation committee on practical and valuable suggestions
- At the shop level
- Create a shop suggestion email address or departmental suggestion box that only the supervisor has access to
- Supervisor or designated individual should periodically park the emails and forms received in a safe location where no one else has access, for later reference
- A shop evaluation committee with representation from all key sub-departments, excluding supervisor, to be established
- Shop evaluation committee to meet every month to review all escalated suggestions
- Shop evaluation committee to submit recommendations to the Departmental evaluation committee on practical and valuable suggestions
How would it work
Submission of ideas
- Each employee/worker can submit an idea for improvement
- Idea to be related to the direct work he/she performs or interact with
- Ideas to be submitted in writing using idea forms, in triplicate
- One copy of the duly filled idea form should be deposited him/herself by the employee to the Central, departmental and shop suggestion boxes each
- Ideas can also be submitted using the shop suggestion email address, copied to departmental and central suggestions emails addresses
- If the person suggesting can not write, idea to be presented verbally to the shop evaluation committee, who is responsible for documenting all ideas, irrespective how absurd the ideas may appear to be, using the idea forms or emails addresses, copying and CCing as required
- Shop evaluation committee meets 2nd last Friday every month and reviews all ideas
- Evaluation criteria be practicality, cost, time and/or effort saving
- Evaluation committee to refine the ideas and make recommendations
- Evaluation committee to document their reasoning of approving or disapproving each and every idea
- Evaluation committee to submit their findings to the departmental and central evaluation committees
- Departmental evaluation committees to meet last Friday of every month
- Departmental evaluation committee to review recommended ideas first and rejected ideas later
- Departmental evaluation criteria again be practicality, cost, time and/or effort saving
- Departmental evaluation committee to refine the ideas and make recommendations
- Departmental evaluation committee to document their reasoning of approving or disapproving each idea
- Evaluation committee to submit their findings to the central evaluation committee
- Central evaluation committee to meet once every three months
- Central evaluation committee to review recommended ideas first, and rejected ideas later
- Central evaluation criteria again be practicality, cost, time and/or effort saving
- Central evaluation committee to refine the ideas and make recommendations
- Central evaluation committee to document their reasoning of approving or disapproving each idea
- Central evaluation committee to submit their final recommendations to the CEO/Board
- After CEO/Board’s formal approval necessary steps to be taken to implement the change
- After CEO/Board’s approval the person who submitted the idea, his/her supervisor and departmental head to be informed
- Contributing employees to be acknowledged during town hall or other means of general announcements
- Rewards, as predetermined and announced, to be extended to contributing employees and committees
Why all those copies and emails
We are human. We may have reservations, personal likes or dislikes, influences and all, and more so in a work environment. When there is recognition and money involved there always can be some vested interests. As much as the channels of submitting ideas, channels of getting complains/grievances addressed are extremely important too. If someone has a complain or grievance about unfair treatment to their ideas or stealing of ideas these email CCs and multiple copies of the idea form come handy.
They can be used to ensure that:
- original ideas are not negatively changed by someone
- ideas are not stolen by someone
- ideas are being fairly evaluated
- ideas are being escalated and/or rejected fairly, and
- only the real proposers get benefits
So, all those copies will remain untouched unless someone makes a complain and then original ideas and notes can be pulled out to investigate and ensure fairness by all.
Depending on the size and nature of business operations the process, size and/or levels of committees and people involved can be adjusted. However, the key concept of encouraging feedback from the grass root level, fairness of the process and rewards and recognition are the key factors for continuous process improvement.
Good thing is that initiating and implementing this process does not require a whole lot of capital investment, time or effort but the benefits are lots. Pakistani businesses, did you want to try out?
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April 18, 2020