Never neglect details. Walk the process. Do it yourself to learn how to do it.
I had just reported into a new organization and was given a huge orientation packet with a three-page checklist. When I asked individuals how long it would take to complete the check-in process the answers varied from 4 hours to two weeks. There were four different types of employee groups but just one check-in process and a single type check list. Each new person had a sponsor. I asked my sponsor if I had to complete all of the checklist items and he replied yes I did. There happened to be another new employee reporting on the same day as I did, so we decided to partner up and do the check-in together. Both of us inquired about certain aspects of the check-in and orientation process and soon discovered that we got different and wildly different answers on the check-in process. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt I decided to document the check-in process along with my partner and record data on the actual process. We started off both with clipboards and I actually used my smartphone’s pedometer to record our steps and the time spent at each check-in station. We soon discovered that often the person who was supposed to check us in was not present to perform the check-in. We had to then come back when they were present. There was no coordination between check-in spots and much of the check-in requirements were rather unnecessary. Often a department head would just initial our check-in sheet. Some would just hand us documents to read later and sign the sheet. Some would update their databases so we asked to watch them do this process and we observed. Bottom line by walking the process we found out how inefficient it was and soon determined what stops were actually value adding or useful. Much of the check-in process was only relevant to a particular employee group (the organization had four of them). We both completed the check-in process in seven business days and presented our check-in sheets to our boss.
We had at least an hour discussion with him about the process and recommended forming a kaizen team, which would have members from all four employee groups, to try and improve the process. He agreed to our suggestion and both me and my partner were appointed Kaizen co-leaders. We did a complicated process map and then greatly simplified it. We had instant credibility with the team because we had just actually walked and completed the check-in process recently. We brainstormed ideas to improve the process and again talked to all the department heads about their needs and concerns. After two weeks of work with the team and other team members walking the check-in process again, we reduced the check-in time to two business days or less for each employee group. In a year after putting much of the check-in process online we reduced it to one business day. More importantly, from a morale and first impression aspect to a new employee the organization appeared well organized and competent. Never neglect details. Walk the process. Do it yourself to learn how to do it.
- Always walk the process first hand and verify it personally not on the “word” of other people.
- Challenge what others see as important and develop a criterion to judge importance.
- Do not procrastinate kaizens. Implement the new process as quickly as possible.
- Ask people directly in person about their needs and concerns.
- Make sure safety items are clearly covered.