Ready, Fire, Aim!!!

Is that the description of your company’s last performance improvement project?

By Bill May


Most of us small business owners do not have a difficult time realizing that we need to improve our business. Typically, we can easily identify when our profit margins are insufficient; we can sense from negative feedback when our quality levels are not meeting the expectations of our customers; and we can observe our increasing internal costs trends.

But, the real questions are:

Where do we start?

What do we work on first?

What should we expect as the results of our efforts?

Many small businesses lack the problem-solving skills necessary to improve their business. This problem is particularly acute in the Manufacturing Sector. A study recently published by AIAG (Automotive Industry Advisory Group) concludes that more than half the industry sees significant risk if problem solving skills aren’t improved to where they need to be — and fast.

The referenced AIAG study also indicates that over one-third of respondents felt there is significant potential for improvement beyond just the quality portion of the business. Problem-solving skills also play an important role in improving operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction.


Problem-Solving Deficiencies

The OEM and supplier participants of this study identified four deficiencies in manufacturers’ problem-solving capabilities:

(1)  Root cause analysis

(2)  Management/organizational culture

(3)  Insufficient time allotted to problem solving

(4)  Jumping to the solution too quickly

These four deficiencies lead to the Ready, Fire, Aim approach to performance improvement. And many times, it becomes a Ready, Fire, Fire, Fire, I give up!

Most of us in the manufacturing world are always looking for the right method to improve our business. If you’re looking for, or have utilized a business improvement methodology, most likely it will be taken from one of these industry thought leaders: Dr. Goldratt, Dr. Deming, or Taiichi Ohno. Respectively, Theory of Constraints, Six Sigma, and the Toyota Production System.


Problem-Solving Techniques

Relative to problem solving techniques, these three influential thought leaders’ ideas can be boiled down to two techniques:

1.   D-M-A-I-C (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) process.

2.  Plan-Do-Check-Act process.

Both of these well-documented problem-solving techniques begin by assessing the situation followed by a detailed Plan of Attack and rigorous follow-up. At HVM, we believe a well-developed, thoroughly documented, and well-executed proprietary assessment and implementation process can be used for analyzing the capabilities and improving the readiness of Small to Medium-sized manufacturing enterprises.

“By getting to the heart of the issues quickly and making the necessary changes, we will make sure small manufacturing entities are prepared for the future and we can begin to help strengthen America’s Manufacturing Sector.”


Rapid Assessment, Focused Execution, and Strong Results

The first step of the improvement process is to identify the business performance indicators which are most important to your business and to understand the appropriate benchmarked level of performance expected.

High Value Manufacturing has identified 15 performance indicators that are crucial to small manufacturing firms. These indicators range from profit margin and cash flow to the day-to-day operations of the company.

We have also established a “benchmarked” level of performance for each of these 15 performance indicators. These benchmarks are based on the performance of the “Best Manufacturers” in the United States. With these established baselines, we can assess your manufacturing company’s performance against the best in the industry.

The next step in the Improvement Process is to develop a specific plan to focus on the highest priority areas for improvement. HVM has the experienced manufacturing resources to develop a very specific plan to address your most urgent performance needs. HVM can also provide the necessary experience and resources to perform the tasks required to improve your organization. Or we can provide the leadership of your resources through the implementation process to achieve your improvement goals.

This proprietary tool provides your company a means to implement a “Ready, Aim, Fire” improvement process and provide your manufacturing company with the Strong Results you desire.

At High Value Manufacturing, we realize manufacturing facilities today struggle with a number of planning, operational and resource challenges. As a world class manufacturing consulting firm our goal is to help our clients assess current manufacturing issues, plan for future needs, provide concrete recommendations and provide the skilled resources required for sustainable growth.

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