The Journey to Becoming a Lean Enterprise

Practicing Constant Continuous Improvement

I don’t think it takes much hard thought to understand that our customers expect from us products and services which meet their requirements for performance and delivery. Our reputation as a preferred supplier to our customers is contingent on excellence in these measures. They expect that we"LEAN" Tag Cloud Globe (quality process improvement efficiency) will provide to them what they want, when they want it, at great value, and on a consistent basis. Fully understanding this premise is the key to success for any company who wants to claim to be a Lean Enterprise.

But, the real philosophy which must permeate throughout the entire organization from the support technician all the way down to the president is that quality in processing our customers’ orders is not something which is “added” to the process, nor is it optional. To be totally effective, quality must be designed into our products, processes and services and it must be practiced by each and every one of us on a constant basis.

Adjectives used to describe the well designed and managed quality management system are: management-owned, well-planned, documented, controlled, monitored, continuously improved, free of waste, consistent and/or repeatable, and defect free both in design, in process and at delivery to the customer location. When total quality is considered to be first among all other things, the rest will come at lower and lower costs to the organization.

So, how can I embody this philosophy? I like to think of my job as an extension of everything I do. After all, I spend more waking hours working than I do in my own home. And, I have come to believe that I have the same rights at my job as I do in my own home. Of course I haven’t always thought this way. But, one day I realized that I had to take charge of my work environment much as I have charge of my home environment. What is the difference? The answer finally came to me. At home I am the “process owner”. I have decision making authority and responsibility for all that happens there. The outcome is up to me. I practice constant continuous improvement there and I enjoy the excellence that that brings to me. In a very real sense, in my own home, I am my own customer. This brings me pleasure and makes me happy there. It has increased the quality of my life. So, why was I not practicing these same standards and expectations in my workplace? I realized that I could become my own customer there too, and it would increase my satisfaction (quality of life) on the job. And, if I could do this for me I could do it for my fellow workers as well. To accomplish this I had to ensure I was doing everything I could to do things right the first time and that I was practicing “constant continuous improvement”. Once I consciously started doing that, even in the smallest of things, I started becoming more and more satisfied with who I was, where I worked, and with my fellow workers. I also found that I stopped worrying about all the other things that I thought others were saying and doing around me and took pride in the things I was accomplishing. I believe we all have a responsibility to ourselves to bring about our own happiness and to stop waiting on others to do that for us. Gaining happiness is a lifelong journey and there are many paths one can take. I believe practicing excellence through constant continuous improvement is one of those paths for happiness at work, and at home. I encourage all of you to think about this idea and to take action on it.

Language of Lean

Most organizations have either heard of or deployed the concepts known collectively as “Lean” and the word has embedded itself into a common place in management language over the last few years. The concept was well known and used in the manufacturing sector initially and there has been a relatively seamless transition into other commercial areas such as banking and now the Public Sector. Like most successful concepts the basic ideas are simple and easy to understand, the difficulty comes in the deployment and implementation. However some enthusiasts do not help by insisting on using Japanese terms to describe the various techniques and then adding their own flavor to what is essentially a highly pragmatic and readily understandable concept. Others seek to increase this confusion with an array of numbers; the 7 wastes, 6 sigma, 5S, the 4 lean laws and for some the use of an A3.
Let’s examine the key principles. There is a fundamental hypothesis about the current situation in any organisation that underpins the use of Lean and that is explained in 5 principles:

  • Most processes are not lean;
  • One primary objective of Lean is to reduce “Work in Progress”;
  • Every process should operate on Pull principles not Push;
  • 20% of all activities cause 80% of the delays or problems;
  • Invisible work cannot be improved.

To illustrate the first two points consider any process in which the customer is applying for something. It could be a mortgage, a social benefit, a new credit card or even planning permission. Let’s assume the process takes 30 days from start to finish. How much time do you think the organization actually spends working on the application? We have studies that show it to be as little as 5 days; why then does it take 30 days from the customers’ perspective? Take a look at how much “Work in Progress” you have at any given time and it starts to become clear that these processes are not lean. By the way, don’t get carried away with the thought that your processes are electronic and therefore must be lean. How many messages do you have in your e-mail Inbox? Electronic piles of paper are just as bad as physical ones.
To correct and improve any situation Lean redesigns what is happening by:

  • Recognizing and valuing the needs of the Customer;
  • Simplifying the process;
  • Embracing Problems;
  • Organizing the process (Flow & Pull).

By focusing on the needs of the Customer and organizing your activities in a way that actually delivers Customer requirements, Lean techniques enable costs to fall at the same time as improving customer satisfaction and service delivery.
DonSwiftAndAssociates.com is experienced in helping organizations become lean. We strip away the jargon and help apply the principles. Talking is free, why not contact us; we guarantee there will be no need for a translator.

One Simple Step to Save Your Marriage

Is Your Marriage On the Rocks?

It’s another evening, just like so many others, sitting in the living room thinking sadly about your relationship Angry Womanthat seems to be on the rocks. You know it takes two to keep a relationship functional, but you and your spouse just seem to have become strangers in your home. The two of you have had your differences and now just do not seem able to talk about them anymore.

Just at that moment your spouse walks in and sits down. The first thing you blurt out is, “Dear, I am sorry, but I do not think we are doing very well. We never talk about what is bothering us.”

Your other half responds, “I was thinking the same thing for the hundredth time, but didn’t know how to approach the subject, as each time all we seem to do is get into some real arguments.”

In the ensuing conversation, you both admit to thinking about the need for mediation to help you sort out the issues that you always seem to argue about and can never bring to a positive conclusion.

There must be a better way, and there is. You know that your relationship is near a meltdown. You both agree there have been lots of signs, and mediation may help you to sort out the disputes at hand.

What Are the Signs of a Meltdown?

There are always signs that your relationship is in a meltdown, but some do not see them while others just cannot talk about them.

Here are some of the top signs that you need couple’s mediation.

1. The quality time you spend together. What quality time together? You do not have time! But didn’t you both go out separately with your individual friends last week rather than spend time together? This is a positive indication you would rather be elsewhere and that your relationship is in meltdown.

2. Who is your best friend? If you have to think about this, or never even considered your partner, you are headed for misfortune. If your partner is not your best friend in every sense of the word, your relationship is on the rocks.

3. When was the last time you had “an intimate encounter?” You cannot remember? Intimacy and special quality time together are very important in a relationship. If you are wondering what an intimate encounter is, your relationship is in meltdown.

4. You do not make decisions together. One or the other of you decides to buy a new car, invites friends over for dinner, or makes a decision that can affect the other partner, the family, or oneself. There is not much we do in our daily lives, away from work, that does not have either a positive or negative impact on our spouse or family. If this is you, your marriage is in a meltdown.

5. You do not talk anymore. During a meal you eat in the living room while your partner remains in the kitchen. You may utter a few words, but neither of you concentrates on any kind of conversation. Not talking or chatting about topics you used to discuss is a sure-fire sign you are in meltdown.

Help Us Please

The two of you look at each other with sadness and know in your hearts that the other is a great person, but you have just let things slide. Life has its ups and downs. It would have been great if you had addressed the signs earlier, but this is life; this is reality.

Thank goodness, after so much time though, the two of you are now talking about a solution. You have mentioned couple’s mediation and remember reading about couple’s mediation services with Don Swift and Associates.

Don Swift has years of healthy experience in mediating disputes between couples, families, and individuals. You remember reading about how many people, just like you, he has helped. Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe there is hope.

The two of you agree on a small start, and you pick up the phone to call Don Swift. You tell him you both have recognized the need for couple’s mediation and want his help.

What Is Couple’s Mediation?

Couple’s mediation is a process of communication that will help each of you “have your say,” with the conversation structured in a way that allows each of you to tell your story and how the issues are affecting you. There is no blame game, and there is no accusing. The couple’s mediation allows for straight talk, from the heart, allowing you to tell exactly how you feel and the reason you feel the way you do.

A neutral person facilitates couple’s mediation. The objective is to help you come to positive conclusions on the outstanding issues affecting your relationship. After talking to Don Swift, you know you have made the right decision to secure his help.

The Call –  The one simple step to save your marriage.

Don Swift has years of positive experiences in helping mediate couple’s disputes in the Wichita Falls area. He is waiting to help you. Don’t let your marriage meltdown. Give him a call to begin working for you.

Call Don Swift right now at 940-228-0550 or (765) 617-5510 to help you and your relationship. You will be glad you did.

Quality Management Saves Businesses!

Quality Management Saves Businesses!

Every manager believes that business is focused on meeting or exceeding customer service requirements. Your business probably is, but there are constantly evolving ways to improve customer satisfaction. Don Swift and Associates can introduce you to an effective Quality Management System.

A well-defined and functioning Quality Management System will help you achieve your goals for quality customer service and satisfaction, something every business aspires to accomplish. Don Swift, a Wichita Falls Human Resources expert, can help you achieve your goals for quality management. Here is a list of 5 Things you should know about Quality Management Systems.

What Are We Talking About Anyway?

A Quality Management System is a process for bringing together all the features you have to lead your organization towards the best in customer service and satisfaction. It includes your organizational structure, the management team, and their responsibilities. Add your procedures, processes, policies, and human and capital requirements, all required for achieving the best customer service and satisfaction, and you have a Quality Management System.

The 5 Things You Need To Know About Quality Management Systems

The first thing that you need to know is that implementing an effective Quality Management System is not an easy task. However, it is one that can help you distinguish your business from your competitors. This is not meant to scare anyone because there is help out there.

Everyone wants their business recognized for great customer service. Extraordinary Customer Service means loyal customers. To have an effective system, bring in the expert, Don Swift. Don can help define your Quality Management System, assist with implementation, and ensure appropriate monitoring, measuring, and management. Outstanding customer service is what you want, and Don Swift can help you accomplish your goal.

Your organization must have a culture that is customer focused, not just serving the customers. It means you want the best customer service. Everyone must know their responsibilities concerning achieving that goal. It also means having the processes and systems in place for collecting and studying data to provide the basis for understanding customer satisfaction over a continuum of time.

To analyze your business culture and develop new ways to make your organization exceptional, bring in the best; call Don Swift.

We have discussed the challenge of implementing a Quality Management System and the need to have a customer focused culture. The question is, “How do we achieve this and guarantee outstanding quality and dedicated relationships?”

Management can implement, but employees deliver. Administration talks about the organization’s vision, mission, and values. Each new employee is introduced to these statements and goals. However, many companies fail by not communicating the implementation of these proclamations with their employees.

A critical part of a successful Quality Management System is having an appropriate process in place for educating new employees. It requires an ongoing communication strategy to confirm that the organization’s mission, vision, and values are front and center all day, every day.

You have the desire to implement a Quality Management System. You understand the issue of business culture and the need to engage your employees in the delivery of your organization’s vision, mission, and values. Now you are ready to start, but what about the benchmark?

The benchmark is your starting point for measuring your success in the future. You need to understand and measure your critical success factors. That is where Don Swift is required. Don can help you understand your critical success factors and how to best measure such things as customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and product quality.

Lastly, we are going to discuss the plan for implementing improvement. You have the Quality Management System in place, you have your benchmarking data, and you are monitoring and measuring. Now, what do you do with all that data?

Obviously, the data will be used to determine a plan for improvement. Don Swift can help you translate the data and develop a plan based upon practical assignments for individual staff to maintain your organization’s exceptional customer service.

Who is this Don Swift Anyway?

Don Swift is an expert in the management of the human side of business. His business is helping businesses understand and implement appropriate policies, procedures, and systems that address each organization’s needs in human resources and quality management. As well, Don is there to help if you need to address employee performance, including termination and mediation.

For any issues relating to human resources in your business, you should call Don Swift of Wichita Falls, Texas at 940-228-0550.

On Your Way with a Quality Management System

Excellent customer service is what separates one organization from another. It is what can raise your organization above the crowd. The way to accomplish all of this is to bring in Don Swift and have him put his Quality Management System expertise to work for you.

Implementing a Quality Management System, focusing on customer satisfaction with quality products, quality service, and quality management is very important to any organization. Your customers and their satisfaction are what keep you in business. Don’t let your business fall down; call Don Swift at 940-228-0550 to help raise your organization above the crowd.

Five Hidden HR Dangers and What To Do!

danger-keep-out-of-hr-spreadsheets-1-638Introduction

There is danger associated with risk. The best way to protect an organization from any risk is to “roll up the carpets, close it down and go home.” Of course, that is not plausible. There are many issues that Human Resources Managers can address to reduce the overall risk to the organization they serve.

In this article, we discuss five of the hidden dangers of Human Resource (HR) Management that many small and mid-sized organizations may not have addressed. As a small or medium sized business owner reading this, it’s important that you consider each of these risk factors. We will be expanding on these in the future, so please, stay up to date by downloading our whitepaper and registering for our newsletter.

Finally, to reduce your risk for all of the below areas, call on Don Swift and Associates, the HR Management Specialists in Wichita Falls, to help protect your organization.

Risk Factors – What are the Five Hidden HR Dangers?

No Written Personnel Policies

Even the most novice HR professional will tell you that the main business advantage to having an employee handbook is in establishing uniform, well defined policies. Good relations with your employees are driven by standardized, consistently applied policies that protect both the business and the employee from risk. Small and medium businesses with no policies in place face challenges with employee disputes. Arbitrators and courts have a sympathetic ear to past employees, so not having written personnel policies can result in judgements against your business, lost productivity, and low morale.

Human Resources Management is very much like the management of other disciplines. Without written personnel policies, it is difficult to train other top and middle managers to apply personnel policies evenly and without bias. The bear-trap of Human Resources Management is when one employee can “prove” he/she was treated differently from another employee. Remember, the onus for proof is on the side of HR Management.

Not Getting Expert Help on Termination

Terminating an employee exposes an employer to huge risks such as employee retaliation, security risks, and various legal claims such as wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits. Often, the burden of proof for legal claims resides with the employer. This is why it is critical that companies get the help of a specialist to ensure risk is reduced and terminations are handled correctly.

Termination of an employee can be a very touchy business. Many employers shrug off the consequences of a termination not executed in accordance with a principled (well thought out and planned) decision. The expedient decision of just firing someone without due process is seen by many as not giving the employee his/her due and can lead to costly settlements.

Hiring the Wrong Person

So, you hired someone who was a bad fit. What now? There are just a few possibilities, either they are going to realize it first and leave, or you’re going to realize it first and terminate them.   Either way, your business is disrupted, your profit has probably taken a hit, and you have to start over with the process of finding someone new. What you’ve learned is the cost of hiring the wrong person. It’s easy to do, but with expert help during the hiring process, it doesn’t have to be as risky to your business.

Hiring is tied to requirements and requirements take into consideration the values, culture, and product/service constraints (responsibilities, duties and skills). Other considerations are training, learning curves, and production goals. All of these figure into selecting the right person for the job. This is a planned and executed process that will result in high recruiting success as well as higher retention rates.

Not Securing Personnel Records

Personnel records contain significant personal information. Now, especially with off-site digital storage, it is imperative to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to protect these records. When records fall into the wrong hands, it can expose your business to significant liability. Use a professional HR person to assess the safety of your records.

It is imperative that HR Professionals understand and execute records maintenance and storage in accordance with federal and state regulations and best practices for document control. Leakage of personnel data is not only costly but will lead to a damaged reputation for both the company and its HR Professionals.

Not Assessing HR Risk

Many companies have never evaluated the risk of HR Management as a stand-alone issue or as part of an overall enterprise risk evaluation for the organization. There is a plethora of risk issues associated with HR Management. For each organization these should be prioritized through an HR Management Risk Review. An HR professional can adequately undertake this for an organization.

HR Risks can include such things as:

  • The hiring of personnel who become risks to workplace safety.
  • Benefits packages and TPAs which do not protect the Company’s employees.
  • Compensation packages and awards that are either not competitive within the industry or are unfairly applied.
  • Incorrect assignment of job status.
  • Personnel policies which violate state and federal laws.
  • Overtime issues – to name just a few.

Human Resources planning is an integral part of addressing risk issues affecting a company and the overall management of activities.

Conclusion

Human Resources has inherent risks that can cost an organization in time, money, and people.  Most small and medium sized organizations do not have the expertise on staff, and even if they do, an HR Consultant like Don Swift and Associates can provide a new HR perspective to the organization.   The risk is real, and most business owners know that. Get Don Swift and Associates on your side to reduce your risks in Human Resource Management.

We are dedicated to finding the best solution for your needs. As a loyal group of ethical practitioners, we hold confidentiality in high esteem and guarantee you will not regret trying our services. Call us today at 940-228-0550 to receive your free consultation.

 

Passion for the Arts

 

There are a few things about which I am passionate. One of those things is the quality of life of the people in my community, and especially the children of my community. Having a long career in human resources, and working to help companies choose the right individuals to help them be wildly successful, I find that an education in the arts is critical to a well-rounded and effective employee.

It’s not only about business though, in a greater sense, I believe the arts make human-kind better than it may actually be. Whether it’s Grade School Art Class or a World-Class Museum, the Arts have the ability to bridge the gaps between the factions of human-kind. Here is a quip that I wrote when I heard my hometown school board had decided to de-fund the multiple award-winning High School Band program.

I remember during my days in the Alexandria-Monroe High School Tiger Band that our band director, Mr. Everett “Zeke” Rossow, taught us over and over the virtues of discipline, order, self-esteem, team work, accuracy, synchronized performance, relationship building, and integrity. As a result we were among the top ten bands in the State of Indiana year after year.

Bands were easily the largest groups of students belonging to any one organization in the school at any given time. Being the largest, there was a continuous effect of the many ways band members touched the lives of countless numbers of teachers, students, friends, acquaintances, family members, etc., and stirred the hearts of citizens and boosters with pride each time they saw or heard their band play and perform.

The center pieces to all this were the music and the teachers. The results of all this were the many students who, even today, speak and act with pride about their experiences then and how music affected their lives over and over again. Many went on to successful careers in music, but many, many more went on to successful careers in a myriad of disciplines because of what they learned in band.

In my opinion, taking the resources away from the arts and ending these programs is not only short-sited, but catastrophic from a futuristic point of view. It hurts not only the students, but lowers the quality of life for the whole community. Where does the average student go to learn about the character of applied knowledge that only the arts can provide to the creative and adventurous mind? It is superficial when the quality of education falls to the cold, unthinking cutting brought about by cost accounting. What good does reducing and eliminating the arts from education do to the community?

Don Swift and Associates is dedicated to helping companies be wildly successful through the use of Quality Management Systems, Human Resource Management, and Mediation services.   As a loyal group of ethical practitioners, we hold confidentiality in high esteem and guarantee you will not regret trying our services. Call us today at (940) 228-0550 or email us at Don@donswiftandassociates.com to receive your free consultation.