Processes and procedures are foundational for a manufacturing company to run efficiently. They make sure everything happens that is necessary to make a product safely with the desired quality level at the price point required for financial health. Processes and procedures ensure repeatability – and without repeatability, any effort at “continuous improvement” falters.
So when would processes and procedures cause a potential “hiccup” in your flow?
- Those times when you have to move at the speed of light, thus needing to by-pass the normal flow. Sometimes a project “falls out of the sky” and onto your desk and is so “hot” that if you followed the normal flow, by the time you filled out your paperwork, you would have missed the deadline. Now what?
- When you are working outside the normal workday time slot only to uncover a procedural step you didn’t even know to plan for… and everyone’s gone home for the day. (Or worse, at 3pm on Friday before a long holiday weekend and not only are they gone for the day, they are out of town.)
- When those embedded deep in the process flow (the folks who really know the details) leave the company – and the organization has forgotten to fill the “process hole” left behind. When least expected and when you least can afford it, you’ll find that hole. Trust me.
As leaders, we need to drive our teams to use tried and true processes and procedures. We must recognize they give us speed and consistency day in and day out. However, we must ensure that our teams are trained to think, to be flexible, and to have strong communication and understanding of the business. Otherwise, processes and procedures become handcuffs just when you feel “the need for speed” to reach your goal.