When we talk about flow what exactly are we talking about? Whether you are in the service industry, manufacturing industry, or medical industry, flow refers to the movement of either product, service, information or anything in your organization that goes from one place to another. The inhibitor to flow is waste in Lean Six Sigma terms. Let’s discuss the important concept of waste. Waste could be excess movement or inventory, waiting for something or transporting something. Waste is more than that. It also includes things like inventory which does not inhibit flow but which costs a business money.
Waste includes non-value adding activities that are defined as activities a customer is not willing to pay for. A simple example could include getting up to get something that you might need. Should a customer pay for that?
The challenge comes from education. Individual’s that are not trained on either the concept of waste or how to detect it will not find it. Companies that have educated their employees to search out and find waste along with companies that practice a rigorous Continuous Improvement program are able to root out waste.
A business that does not focus on removing waste finds themselves making actions and performing activities that are not adding value. In fact, waste contributes to taking value away.
Lean Business recommends that Service, Manufacturing, Medical businesses all look at Lean Six Sigma as a vehicle to improve business performance.
Flow follows the introduction of Value Streams. Once you have your Value Streams set up you will be able to monitor and accelerate your flow. Removing the waste from your organization increases velocity through your organization, decrease your costs by removing non-value added activities and paradoxically, increases quality as a process has less opportunity to negatively impact the product or service delivered.
The new focus on flow throughout any type of business gives the business the opportunity to accelerate business services/products. This acceleration results in:
- realizing profits sooner
- setting benchmark performance levels that are difficult for your competitors to meet
- impress customers with your responsiveness
- setting ever-increasing performance goals
Start to think in terms of flow and the doors of business improvement will open.