In the past 20 years I have visited and supported many companies in the technology industry. All of them beautiful companies. But what is striking is the amount of waste that is still present. Often there is no “drive” or even no program that has to eliminate these wastes.

Why is this so difficult?
We all know that there is “Waste” in companies. Sometimes that is not so bad, but in the vast majority of cases employees and management no longer see the waste. Ask any employee what to improve and you will get at least 2 A4 pages full of ideas (or usually old complaints) within 10 minutes.

The problem is often in the organization structure.
Our often hierarchical way of organizing makes a FLOW within organizations very difficult. Each department works as efficiently as possible (that was the target) and divides the work in such a way that the output for his or her department is the most favorable. The result: waiting times and therefore waste! These can also increase considerably.

Value Stream Mapping
For a project organization I recently created a Value Stream Map for the quotation process. The average turnaround time was 4 weeks. By making smart choices and managing information in a better way, it turned out that a leadtime of 1 hour was feasible. A reduction of no less than 99%!
A good approach that I always use is a reduction of the turnaround time by 50%. Of course, this applies to all processes from order intake up to and including delivery. It turns out to be a modest KPI but it does make people think about where waste in the flow is actually hidden.

Beware of habituation
Many companies will soon close their financial year again. Our target was a lead time of max 1 week! What time does your company use to do this job? Unfortunately, however, it appears that habituation often occurs quickly.  A standard reply I’ve heard a lot is: Oh yeah , we’ve been doing that for years! And yes it has been repeated over many years……….

My favorite book therefore “Learning to see” by John Shook.