April 2014 |   Volume: 46 |   Number: 4
The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
Telling timelinesJust as annotated trend lines help us diagnose a system’s performance, timelines can help us explore, evaluate and shape more effective work cultures. Without the context of a timeline, we often change work systems without fully understanding their real strengths and weaknesses, let alone the ramifications of shifting gears to new work systems or alternate system designs.
The new project managementProject management offices use well-designed but static templates, tools and approaches, many borrowed from the Project Management Institute. While these tools help, practitioners may lose sight of the big picture. The process may become a bit too mechanical, assumptions might not be challenged, and the desired outcome may be ignored in favor of being on time and on budget.
Taking baby steps toward standardizationChange your goal to having everyone perform the activity or task to achieve "equifinality." What I mean is this: Explain that you are not attempting to standardize at this time, but that you do want to ensure that regardless of which practitioner patients see, what time of day their appointment is, or which branch of the hospital they visit, patients will end up receiving care or treatment that will leave them in good health.
Applying lean methods to supply chainsThose of us who have lean thinking in our DNA always look for ways to apply these concepts to our work, whether in manufacturing, financial and sales processes, or across the supply chain. The key question is, "Does this activity or process create value or does it contain waste?" If it is like most activities or processes, some parts add value, while others are wasteful and can be improved.