Insanity Metrics

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”” only_single=false]Remember the saying “don’t put off until tomorrow that which you can do today?”  I developed a new variance of this old saying based on some recent events.  “Don’t put off until tomorrow that which you can do today, unless is clashes with a concrete head metric!”

The addition stems around the postponing of a kaizen event until a later date.  Regardless of your opinion on the success of a kaizen blitz for long term success, this particular event was important, as it centered on a QCO on the bottleneck of a sold out value stream.  It would generate immediate improvement to the business bottom line.

The event was put on hold because it would jeopardize the ability of the plant to “make the current month” numbers in the yearly plan.  Even though immediate improvement of the bottle neck would yield bottom line dollars, the pressure to meet arbitrary production goals was too much.  There are a variety of reasons for this pressure, with the perception of beatings from the corporate office among them.

As a leader of a transformation, one must be careful not to get caught up in the metrics that have yet to be converted from the old school of thought.  It is, of course, very important to make production numbers, but that needs to be balanced against the ability to improve.  Especially when the lost production would be made up in a month and pay dividends very shortly.  Don’t let your teams fall into this insanity trap!!!

It sounds very simple but don’t be fooled by the by the ability of these situations to creep in and seem justified at the time.  Historically it is a very easy trap to fall into and divert teams from doing the right thing!  Stay strong in your leadership, swim upstream, keep the improvements coming, and most importantly, don’t let the old concrete head metrics keep you tied up like a straight jacket!



4 Responses

  1. The tough thing about this is that either corporate hasn’t made the transformation to the new (lean) way of thinking and if they have, they haven’t communicated it to the affected plant. The hypocrisy of the leadership must be frustrating, because they may even be promoting their company as “lean.” I think it’s good to challenge the leadership up to a certain point on this. Even though they may not change their minds immediately, you are chipping away, and eventually you may break through… Sure would be fun to grab a copy of “The Toyota Way” and show them Principle 1, wouldn’t it? “Base Your Management Decisions on a Long-Term Philosophy, Even at the Expense of Short-term Financial Goals.”

    • Great points and yes, long term thinking is still in the infancy. I would describe the situation as we have one foot on the lean side and one foot dragging on the concrete head side, not quite willing to make the full commitment.

  2. It is hard to think long term especially when you struggle to make the numbers each month in this tough economy. We certainly know that what you put off will come back to haunt you. I like to ask, “Would you make the same decision if the books closed quarterly or yearly?” If you would then it is probably right. If not then you are probably thinking short term and should consider a longer term view.

    • Tim, great way to approach it with your groups on the quarerly close scenario. Gets people thinking differently……


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