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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Three Operational Discipline Techniques That Improves Quality

To ensure the success of your corporation you must ensure that your company is operationally disciplined. Operational discipline must be part of your company's culture.

Operational discipline is defined as the deeply rooted dedication and commitment by every member of an organization to carry out each task, the right way, each time. ‘‘Discipline’’ in this context does not refer to punishment, but to doing things in a way that results in positive benefits. Operational discipline reflects the strength of an organization’s Lean culture in making systems effective and in providing tangible result. In addition, a high level of operational discipline typically contributes to improved business performance through higher productivity, higher quality, reduced waste, and lower costs.

Operational discipline is the willingness to create and follow processes/rules and hold people accountable for performing them. In Lean speak, it includes elements of Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA).  There are 3 operational discipline techniques that you can use to produce higher quality.

Standard Work (Plan-Do)
Standard work is a written description of how a process should be done. It guides consistent execution. It is the most effective combination (method) of manpower, materials and machinery.

Andon (Check-Act)
Andons are audible, or more commonly visual, signals that something has happened.  The aim is that andons quickly alert managerial and technical staff to a problem having arisen so that they can get to the source of the problem and begin to investigate it.

Audit (Check-Act)
The final step in the process is setting up a quick audit process to make certain your rules are being followed and your process is staying in good shape. Use audits to not only sustain the improvements from Kaizen, but also expose new problems and resolve them with your employees' involvement and input. In the beginning, the audits may need to be more frequent to force the discipline to adhere.

In an organization where a strong Operational Discipline culture exists, there will be a “deeply rooted dedication and commitment by every member of an organization to carry out each task – “the right way, every time.” Through standard work, each process is defined and performed the same way every time. Implementation of signals will alert you of problems early which improves quality and provides a foundation for continuous improvement. Auditing ensures you do what you say you will do. Create a culture that is operationally disciplined and you will find improved business results, better quality, and less waste.

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