After it’s been confirmed that the bottleneck is not just a one-off. It’s wise to involve the team who are up and downstream of the blockage. As each team member will see things from a different perspective and help to provide a more holistic view of the bottleneck.
Involving the team is incredibly valuable it helps to form a stronger more cohesive team when they can see that their input is valued. There is nothing that unites a team more than when everyone is working together to solve a problem. Another benefit of involving the team is when a solution is applied because they were involved in its creation they will more readily adopt and use the solution.
Being directly involved your team will often have a more thorough understanding of the causes and come up with creative solutions to resolve a bottleneck better than any external consultant could provide. The different perspectives team members provide will help to bring together a smorgasbord of possible solutions. These can then be sifted through and different combinations considered, to arrive at a bespoke solution to resolve the bottleneck in your business.
One of the simplest and fastest methods for identifying the factors causing a bottleneck is The 5 Why’s. It comes from Lean Manufacturing Methodology which has within it processes to help transform any business. Essentially Lean Manufacturing processes help find the causes of bottlenecks and identify solutions. When done regularly result in incrementally improving a business. It has been so successful, that it transformed Japan into becoming a globally recognised car manufacturing nation.
By the time you have asked “why” five times you will likely be coming up with the same answer. If you’re not, keep going the true cause may still be deeper down. Particularly if the blockage has occurred in a process involves many steps and inputs.
Often there can be more than just one isolated thing causing a bottleneck. If there has been more than one answer to “why”, it’s wise to also run through the process of asking why for each answer. So that you identify the cause for each answer. This will allow a more comprehensive solution to be put in place addressing each of the causes contributing to the bottleneck
When you have arrived at a solution or a combination of different things that when combined will create the solution. If at all possible, do a small-scale test before rolling it out across the whole operation.
Doing a test will minimize disruption in your business and help reduce the risk of spending money on something which may not work as intended. Often a solution will require several iterations before it will be able to be seamlessly integrated within your business.
Thorough testing will help eliminate or at least greatly minimise any unexpected surprises when you do decide to go live with the solution.
As your business grows you will uncover new bottlenecks that will surface to solve. So rather than resenting bottlenecks occurring, it’s often a positive sign that your business is growing.
Previously I mentioned Lean Manufacturing Methodology and Toyota is one of the many businesses that use this methodology. Senior Toyota management expects that their managers will regularly do things that create short-term bottlenecks within the manufacturing plants. By doing this they are regularly identifying potential future bottlenecks within the business before they can have a significant impact on the business.
This regular process of stress testing their business provides them time to test and refine solutions before they are actually required. Over the long term, with this regular practice the business becomes incrementally more productive and profitable, and fewer disruptions occur within the business.
If you’re interested in transforming your business and are not quite sure where to start?
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