Recently I have been working with a team, focused on productivity improvement. Early on in our discussions the team started to complain about a slow member of the team.

Our discussion explored what some of their issues were and the conversation took an interesting turn…

Apparently, the slow team member was spending time setting up their workstation. The complaint from the team members was that this individual was not producing (when everyone else was).

We did a little bit of digging and reviewed the final result. This ‘slow’ team member generated more output that anyone else on the team. Where they lost time at the start they more than made up for it by having optimised their working area for planned work.

After the team I was working with had an ‘aha’ moment, we generated some options so everyone could benefit from this approach. The overall team raised their productivity levels, within one week, after having had this realisation.

But, what are our basic lessons for process improvement?

Preparing properly (but fast) and maximising output is a good strategy. Evaluate where the waste is in a process and how a small amount of time of preparation can make the overall process much more productive. This could range from arranging hand tools, to exception reporting, to reading management reports ahead of a meeting.

If increasing output isn’t your goal, this approach can help you to get finished faster with what you have to complete. This then gives you the opportunity to move to your next assignment more quickly.

So, what do you do that you jump straight into but could benefit from a review of the setup / preparation?

Giles Johnston
Giles Johnston

Giles is a Chartered Engineer and the author of several books on process improvement including, What Does Good Look Like? and Effective SOPs.