Oct 09

How Do You Do That?






Have you ever been frustrated working on a project, enough that you stop mid-action and  proclaim, “There has GOT to be an easier way to do this”?

Employees can feel this way a lot, especially those that contend with strict regulations, requirements, and high maintenance corporate processes.

…Or a very stubborn boss.

Coincidentally, these employees performing the task/service are usually the same ones talking with their co-workers about process alternatives, method improvements, and seemingly obvious short-cut potentials.

These situations can all be grouped under the thrillingly ambiguous category of Operations Management.

Now, operations management usually makes me think of the television show, ‘How It’s Made.’  I’m thinking assembly lines, big machines, inspectors, etc.  A lot of times I think, “How do people come up with this stuff?  These people must be geniuses!”  Which makes me think of Albert Einstein; and luckily, he has some good thoughts that pertain to a past discussion in my Operations Planning & Control class.  These have to do with process assessment and, hopefully, improvement.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

-Albert Einstein

  • In my Operations class, we discussed the idea that, “The people who are involved with the process are the best source of ideas on how to improve it.”  Many times this is true, and if management is looking to refine a process (cut costs, time, materials, etc.), the best source of advice can be from employees.  Looking for new ways of thinking like this, or through consulting firms, etc. can be an extremely helpful option, and provide not only process improvement, but innovation as well.
  • This can especially apply for international business; if you open a company in a new foreign market, it is a good idea to hire/consult locally and then use their input to improve your success by tailoring your product/service to that particular area’s wants and values.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

-Albert Einstein

  • Gathering facts is not a particularly hard thing to do.  Doing something with all the available information can be!  It’s important to foster creativity, change management, and innovation, and a great way to do that is by expanding internationally!  Even if your company doesn’t physically set up shop in another country, consulting with similar businesses from other areas or hiring people from strategic foreign countries can be a great innovation tool.  For example, if Neutrogena wants to develop an organic version of their product, they can hire consultants or engineers from a business like Natura, which is a South American cosmetics company that practices sustainable sourcing from the Amazon rainforest’s natural resources.  (http://www.natura.net/br/index.html)

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

-Albert Einstein

  • Take the time to assess your processes.  Try and explain it to someone that would have no idea what you are talking about.  If you can’t explain it easily in English, how would you even be able to translate it if you had to send process instructions to your foreign production company!
    • There are many helpful tools available to organize process description so that it can be assessed for problems, or used as a guide for teaching people how to do it.