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Lean is Doing Less more Often

A container ship will need significant adjustment after sailing off-course for some time. More frequent checks and smaller course adjustments are a more effective way to stay on course.

The performance of your business and processes is the same: more frequent checks and adjustments keep your processes stable and in control. Stability is “the gift that keeps on giving”, and every organisation should strive for operational stability.

Less More Often

Stability creates mental bandwidth and time for improvement and innovation, whether it is your products/services, your people, or your processes. The routine cadence of the check-adjust (and plan) reviews that a daily management system offers, is the short-interval course-correction activity of highly successful businesses.

“Make smaller adjustments and improvements more frequently” or “less more often” is the central mantra of Lean.

Plan-Do-Check-Adjust

Lean (or Continuous Improvement, or Operational Excellence, or Total Quality Management) is based on the plan-do-check-adjust cycle or wheel. The smaller the wheel, the more agile, the faster it turns, the more in control you are, and the more benefits you deliver. Bigger wheels take longer to get going and to deliver value.

Same in life: short but frequent exercise gets you fitter faster than sporadic mega efforts.

Cadence

Do ‘Lean’ as often and small as possible. Align your check-adjust cycle with the natural cadence of your business processes. Daily is often a good cadence as most people work in units of days. But sometimes this is too long: hourly check-ins are common when processes are variable; even shorter cycles measured in seconds are commonly aligned with unit cycle times. I’m yet to hear compelling examples of business environments where daily is too frequent, although sometimes this is seen as too often.

What is your check and adjust cadence to stay on course?

About the author: Geerten Lengkeek is the Managing Director of Productivity People