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Balancing Day-to-Day Responsibilities and Continuous Improvement

With a new year come new challenges and new opportunities.  In order to improve we must strike that right balance between day-to-day responsibilities and continually improving.  It’s never easy, but if you don’t take the time today, and may cost you a lot more in the long term.

First, let’s all agree that change is necessary.  Heraclitus said it best, “There’s nothing permanent except change.”  I heard another great quote years ago that went something like, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”.  The difficulty that we all face is how we find the time to manage that change, effectively and efficiently.  The tools and techniques learned from methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma, and Theory of constraints can help you through that transition.  It’s imperative that we do things right the first time and focus on continually improving everything we do, for the betterment of the company and the wonderful people it employs.

One great way to find new opportunities is called Gemba.  So what is Gemba?  Well, in simple terms it’s going to the place where the work takes place and taking a step back and looking at the process with an unbiased set of eyes.  You want to “go and see” what’s really happening within a process or value stream to determine how effective and efficient it’s being performed.  Gemba helps us define the current state as it is today, and seek better ways of performing our processes.  You’ll want to “walk the process”, observe the process, take notes, and constantly ask “Why do we do it that way, and is there a better way?”  Over time you’ll begin to see the hidden opportunities that lie within.

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