In my last blog, Targets, I covered the situation of hitting time targets in a services environment. I thought I was onto something but wasn’t sure just what……..

Just to recap, people are targeted on delivering work within a certain time frame e.g. reply to a customer letter within X number of days. There was an understanding that this “drives the wrong behaviours” but no clarity on what to do. Here is what I have come to.

What I did was look at the current measure andsplit time into value and non-value as shown.

Then I looked at the two time components and put together two principles:

1.The time an item is waiting in a queue should not be the handler’s problem; it’s a management problem. The idea of pushing people to “work harder” because of variation in demand doesn’t work and alternative solutions are required.
2.The time that a handler is working on an item should not be driven by a time target but should be against a quality target. We want our people to do a great job as quality drives down rework, defects and costs.

Now the tricky bit, how to translate these principles into actual measures. What I looked for were rules for defining the measures and came to these from Vanguard

  • The measure should help in understanding and improving performance – capability measures rather than targets
  • The measure must relate to purpose – measure what is important to the customer
  • The measure must be integrated with work – the measures must be in the hands of the people who do the work

Looking at these and my principles I came-up with two measures:

  • Lead Time – The time from receipt to when work starts. Leadership and not handlers own this. They are responsible for improving Lead Times by changing the system not “cracking the whip”
  • Right First Time – This is not a time measure but a quality measure. For each step in the process, the “Must-do” & “Optional” requirements are defined. These are the items that ensure the work is done correctly without defects being created. It is as simple as a check-list to ensure work is done as required.

The approachextends across the whole life-cycle.This splits the process into value and non-value adding steps. It focuses the right people on doing the right things – leadership to reduce Lead Time by reducing waste in the process – handlers to improve Quality by defining, doingand measuring what is required.

Sound good? I am already getting challenges and resistance. Would appreciate comment on the logic and how I could make the proposal even better…..

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