As I continually find, fundamentals are often overlooked yet critical to success; thus, it seems this is a great topic to take a look at….

  1. What matters in your operation? – Forget about Lean, Six Sigma, TQM and the rest for now. In my experience, it is a distraction and doesn’t correlate to success. Instead, take a step back and think about what matters in your operation. Are materials significant? Or labor? Short lead times? Quick configuration?
  2. Track just a few key metrics – Track what matters. It sounds simple but is often overlooked, too complex or lost in the shuffle with all the noise. It will get focus on what matters.
  3. Uptime – Several times, I’ve found that uptime percentages are more impactful than efficiency rates yet we spend 80% of our time on efficiencies. Why? Instead, find out why the machines aren’t running.
  4. Eliminate waste – Most of the time, I find that the key to success is identifying waste. Once it’s identified, if the right people are brought together, it will be addressed. Don’t run in circles.
  5. Collaboration – As operations folks, we are often times too reluctant to bring in experts (believe me, you are not alone if you feel this way!). Instead, ask experts and create an environment of collaboration – suddenly, your issues will disappear. Include engineering, R&D, suppliers, customers, software experts, etc.