Organizations are always looking at ways to “do more with less.”
It is often taken as to work harder and getting paid less. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we have a plan – a strategy we can “do more with less.” But the fact is most organizations do have a plan but when it comes to implementation they are struggling day in and day out to get the work done or implement what has been planned. We are always entangled by asking questions like How much waste does our organization produce? Many a times we have to wait for someone else to finish a task before we can get on with our own work. Do we have a large inventory of unsold stock? Do we have more workstations than we need? Or do we order materials months in advance of when they are needed? How about flexibility? If consumers want a modification / change to our product, can we quickly change our processes to meet their needs? Do we have frequent over time?
All these questions cost money to us and our customer. And if our customers have to pay more because of it, they might go elsewhere. So, how can we get answers to such questions and how can we do things more efficiently?
Many think “Add more machines or add more people or add materials, etc.???
But this is a non-kaizen thinking. Time has come to think about transforming them into organizations where people think KAIZEN (produce more with available resources). Leaders who are looking to truly do more with less has to adopt a company-wide KAIZEN mission.
KAIZEN approach challenges the individual to make continuous improvement daily no matter how small. Imagine if all employees start making small improvements daily, the impact could be tremendous. The change has to be an improvement that somehow translates to an increase in efficiency. But if we look at the flip side of the coin – the cost of implementing KAIZEN is not free. Employees have to be trained, provided some time to think & implement, etc. Continuous improvement cannot be done in an environment where employees do not have time to review their performance to identify improvement opportunities. Employees will have to understand the difference between being busy and being productive. They have to learn the art of identifying non-value adding activities. They will have to identify elements of production that add time, effort, cost, but no value. KAIZEN approach helps the organization or employees to identify the 3 killer virus i.e. Muda (Waste), Mura (inconsistencies or variation) and Muri (Strain).
Muda is classically seen in eight forms:–
- unnecessary material transportation,
- unnecessary motion of people… hands, feet, eyes!
- rework/ inspection due to defects,
- people, material or machines waiting for each other
- unnecessary processing – over kill!
- unnecessary production – producing more or faster than required
- unnecessary inventory – in any form raw, work in progress or finished goods
- finally the killer – unused human skills/ potential
Mura means Variation/inconsistency. Variation means deviation from a set standard or expected outcome. Mura – Variation from expectations is a rampant virus, inflicting all processes and work activities. Variation results in waste in the form of scrap, reworking or reprocessing. Coming to business, there is variation in business processes, products, materials, skills, output etc. Inspite of advancements in machines and in process technology, variation do occur and it is the management’s duty to IDENTIFY, MEASURE, ELIMINATE and keep out all variation from the processes.
Muri means avoidable physical strain/ burden on people and machines/ equipments at work. Same strain (within defined & safe limits) is to be expected at work, but when the strain becomes excessive, it becomes a burden It results in accidents, injury, leading to poor output or quality errors. A person, who in working in extreme conditions caused due to excess noise, temperature, fumes, etc, experiences Muri / burden.
The 3 MU’s are observable and comprehensible by all because everyone lives with it. Most of the time that is what people complaint about! That is what creates obstruction and people are not able to their work productively. There is a need to train our teams to identify the 3 MU’s, to show them that the largest productivity and profits are obtained by driving out these 3 MU’s only. If this is taken care of we can actually “do more with less.”
Make actions to regularly identify, reduce and eliminate the 3 MU’s from our GEMBA. This is the key to success or for doing more with less.
So KAIZEN is the answer for “do more with less”.
Sample checklist: Below given are the sample checklist which can help an organization while on the journey of KAIZEN.