Key to Sustaining Systems and Mechanisms
Often when we are solving problems, we find several parts of our systems or mechanisms are no longer being followed or are non-existent. So, we put them all back in place and even create some new ones. High fives, back slaps, great job! Then a few months later, we are surprised that they are gone again! Why? Usually it is because we took one-time actions and did not build in sustainable components within the system or mechanism. In fact, without these sustaining components, it’s not really a system or mechanism at all.
To complete or sustain your systems or mechanisms, be sure to include these three components as a minimum:
- Initial training – align everyone on how to, expectations, and any technical aspects.
- New hire/ new to team training – ensure anyone that joins the team after the initial training receives the training to avoid partial training and the “photocopy of a photocopy” level of knowledge and skill base transfer.
- Refresher/re-certification training – establish a regular cadence to refresh the team to avoid erosion of the basics and reduce the creeping in of non-standard “custom” components.
Establishment of metrics/KPIs
- It’s critical to create and visualize metrics/KPIs and establish a regular cadence to review them. It also reduces the opportunity for components of the system or mechanism to slowly erode as people just stop doing them or do so intermittently. As a boss of mine used to say it reduces the chance of the “this is so important, I’ll never ask you about it again” type of management where important items are discussed once and then get lost in the pile of unimportant but urgent items that demand attention they don’t deserve. It also then provides insight to component failures or the need to kaizen the system or mechanism before it becomes a real problem or impact to the business or operation.
- We need to periodically audit the system or mechanism to confirm that all the components are still in place and are to the defined standard. Audit confirms if the team is following the standards and standardized work, any visual controls are still in place or in need of refreshing, and to check the health and effectiveness of each of the components, or the need to kaizen the system or mechanism.
“This is so important, I’ll never ask you about it again!”