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Business Health Check; the three key indicators for your daily walk around

Lean daily leadership reminds us that active leadership is important to continuous improvement. The leaders of the great companies are visible in their businesses and understand how to do a quick health check of their business on a daily basis. Here we will consider the key points for checking in on the health of your business. We want to check the heart rate, blood pressure and the temperature of our business every day. We will also consider how to interpret these health indicators to our business equivalents.

Even with complex business processes there is still a handful of key indicators to look for to determine how successful we all will be to meet our business goals. We also know that the time frame for response is very important. If we’re only look at key indicators once a month, it gives us less opportunity to make changes and get back on track; reviewing the key indicators on a daily basis allows us to keep things on track as soon as they may start wondering a little.

The three key indicators to look for each day, during your daily walk around, are heart beat, blood pressure and temperature.

use a daily walk around to check the health of your business

Heart Beat or Takt Time

We know the first thing we check in a first aid emergency is for a pulse. The business pulse and heartbeat are also important. The heartbeat of the business is another way of considering the Takt time, where we consider our customer requirements, how we schedule to meet these needs and the flow of our product through the factory to meet this.

To have a strong heartbeat we need a reliable schedule and a product flow. You need to understand the key components to make sure this happens for your business. For many manufacturing businesses to be able to deliver the correct products, we need:
– the correct materials,
– the instructions,
– the skilled labour to make them and
– the packaging materials.

This handful of key inputs can be checked each day to reassure us that the schedule can be met; have we have given ourselves a fighting chance to achieve a requirements for the day? Are we setting ourselves up for success?

Blood Pressure or Work In Process (WIP)

The second health check we need to do in our business on a daily basis is the check the blood pressure or Work In Process (WIP) of the factory’s processes. During a walk around you know the areas where WIP may accumulate and form queues, waiting for the next step in the process. In a well-designed production system, we clearly define where these queues should be formed. How much WIP is sitting in these defined locations? Is there WIP sitting in places where flow should be occurring?

Considering these questions as we walk the factory each day can help us spot trouble early on the the process. This is the same for paperwork as well. Piles of job cards in an “IN” tray is another indicator of work in progress, sitting and waiting for action to be taken.

A good understanding of your process will determine if the WIP is too high or too low. Too much work in one area may indicate there is a bottleneck or a problem with a process. Maybe another area is overproducing when it doesn’t need to be. Too little WIP can also indicate the problem. Why are we low on work? Or is it not getting released into the factory in a timely manner. Delays in releasing paperwork can have a huge affect on efficient production flow.

A daily walk around can check how much work is at these key locations. Comparing the numbers at these points from day to day will give you a very clear indication of the health of your business.

Temperature or Morale

And finally want to check the temperature of our business health. The temperature is representative of the morale or temperament of your team. If your team Is feeling appreciated, well resourced and looked after, they will be functioning well. If your team is feeling overburdened or the resources are stretched, the results may not be as good. We know when times are tough that our team can put together to help you through the rough patches. But expecting our team to constantly work under resourced is not beneficial to any party.

During our many site visits we find an interesting measure of temperature or morale is the state of the communal lunch room or kitchen. When things are running well, people are happy to clean up after themselves, and maybe their colleagues, without a problem, keeping the kitchen area clean. When the morale deteriorates many people seem to stop caring and give up their contribution to keep common areas clean.

Including a check of comment areas during your daily walk around is a good way to gauge the current temperament of your business.

Getting started with a daily health check walk around

Getting started on undertaking a daily walk around may seem daunting if you are new to you company or management position. As with all of the Lean tools, start simply and build on your routine as you become more comfortable.

1. Set a time

Decide on a time to complete your daily health check walk and schedule it into your calendar. This helps you to stock to your commitment and to be able to communicate to your team that you will be starting daily walk arounds. Please make it a time during normal working hours; having a daily walk around after your team leaves can be perceived as being sneaky and takes away the opportunity to see your factory as it is during the work day

2. Plan a route

Your daily health check needs to take all key areas into the route, so plan a pathway that takes you through your factory processes. You can create a standard work sheet or checklist to cover the WIP points that need to be included in your daily audits

3. Determine the correct forum for feedback

he challenge with starting a daily walk around can be the temptation to jump into action and want to chew out the closest team member when you see something going wrong, or not going at all. With the exception of safety issues, do not interfere with the daily operations. You can ask questions but this is not the forum to get angry or being self righteous about how things “should” be done.

Determine the best forum to provide feedback to your direct reports. It may be the daily leadership meeting or weekly production meeting. give you team the heads up that you are starting daily walk arounds and where your focus will be. Then you can ask questions and offer feedback in a controlled forum that allows your team to respond with facts.

In Conclusion

Active leadership is important to continuous improvement and a daily walk around to determine the health of your business can be very beneficial. We considered the three key points for checking in on the health of your business with business equivalents of the heart rate, the blood pressure and the temperature of our factories.

If you would like TXM to help you plan your daly health check walk arounds, just give us a call.

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