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Never underestimate the value of a dumb question!

May 6th, 2020 Comments off
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We are business operations consultants and problem solvers with diverse experience in Service, Manufacturing and Industrial environments. We build on a foundation of client dialog, product-process research and identification of actionable metrics, and then create solutions that enable better decisions and better products at a lower cost.

The Need:
When an organization feels that they are under-performing, the fundamental reasons are almost always:

  • metrics (“reports”) that are confusing and are not actionable.
  • ambiguous work processes and decision rules.
  • poor or missing resources, tools and technology to effectively perform the work.
  • technology integration issues that are difficult to resolve without disrupting the business.
  • A lack of sustainment training which preserves and transfers process & product knowledge to new associates.

Symptoms of these problems can manifest as indecisiveness, mistakes, employee job dissatisfaction and lack of motivation, customer complaints, warranty issues and other gaps between expectations versus results.

The Approach:
As in agent for change and improvement, I have the freedom and objectivity to ask questions and pursue solutions that associates do not.

“Why are these call center agents always busy and these others never receive any inbound calls?”
“Why is the plating current and time set to the same value regardless of what is being plated?”
“Why does the telephone IVR have twenty prompts that all route to the same agent queue?”
“Why are we tying up all of the inbound phone lines with outbound robo-callers?”
“Why are call center agents endlessly scrolling on their 14 inch monitors?”
“Why are all of the packaging machines set to the same identical run speeds?”
“Why aren’t we running most of our product through the welding station with the lowest fail rate?”
“Why is There a puddle of water in the floor?”

A True Story:
As we walked the isle between the high throughput automated lines that turned raw material into finished product, I asked: “Why is there a puddle of water in the floor?” The plant engineer said, “That’s a dumb question! Water in the floor has NOTHING to do with how that machine runs!”

“Open that panel.”, I said. The panel revealed a washer spray that an untrained operator had never aligned. Instead of performing a critical cleaning operation, water was sprayed against the panel and into the floor. Failure to clean meant scrap product!

Never underestimate the value of a dumb question!