Category Archives: FLM Management Coaching

Where is your hidden zone?

Where is your hidden zone?

Written by Erica Bassford, Head of Aspire at Lauras International

Four eggs in egg cups

During a recent management training course I was asked if an individual should focus on improving their weaknesses first or developing their strengths. It’s a bit like ‘which comes first, the chicken or the egg?’

You are only as strong as your weakest link. If your weakness is something you need to use in your day to day life, being your weakest link is probably having a significant effect on your overall effectiveness. Our strengths, on the other hand, form part of our Unique Selling Point (USP). Continually developing our USP to ensure it remains unique is important, isn’t it?

We all prefer to work on what we enjoy and what we enjoy is almost always something we find relatively easy or we are good at it. Investing in your weakness, therefore, is likely to be more time consuming, more frustrating and will require more effort.

There is no straight answer but what is clear, our first task is to understand ourselves not only from our perspective, but from the perspective of others. We all have ‘hidden’ zones, things people see in us that we are blissfully unaware of. For example, jangling change in your pocket, or saying ‘Umm’ repeatedly during presentations. Once we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses we can make an informed decision on what to invest our time and effort in, and can look for alternatives to help. One of the best ways to overcome our weaknesses is to work with someone who has that as their strength, learning from them. An alternative may be to delegate or even outsource a task that require us to use our weakness.

In truth we will need to develop both our strengths and weaknesses but for the most efficient outcome we not only have to fully understand ourselves, but also the strengths and weaknesses of those around us. Need help with your chicken and egg? We can help you build your unique development plan then work with you to excel.

For more on our Aspire coaching and mentoring programmes for Front Line Managers, get in touch.

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Slay your “Corridor of Uncertainty”

Written by Adrian Oliver, Engagement Leader, Lauras Internationalcricket_image

I was watching the recent Test Match between England and Australia when Ricky Ponting, the ex-Captain of Australian National Cricket, was being interviewed about his experiences as an international cricketer. The interviewer enquired about the biggest changes Ponting had witnessed during his career. He explained that he had started his playing career during the Semi-professional era of the Nineties, through the Professional era and latterly into the Ultra-professional era. What did he mean by this, the interviewer asked…?

With the increase in the number of TV cameras at matches and the proliferation of companies providing data and statistics on all elements of the game, Ponting explained it has become increasingly common for teams to use this data to identify the weaknesses of opponents. With this information teams have been able to develop more effective tactics to defeat an opponent and thus make their path to success more likely. As a consequence, individual players have had to focus their attention more and more effectively on their own areas for improvement, reinventing themselves each year in the face of fierce competition so that they are able to survive and succeed at the pinnacle of their profession.

Having worked in both the food and drink markets, I know from experience how important it is for businesses to use their scarce resources wisely. In the competitive market places that we all operate in, no-one can afford to waste valuable resources on areas that are not priorities. We must deliver sustained improvement in our operations if we are to deliver long-term success.

Like the international cricketers, it is vital that we capture detailed information about our priority areas so that we can recognise areas of strength but also areas for improvement, e.g. once we have identified the bottleneck of a process we can begin to capture data about how effectively it runs. Using simple data capture sheets and proven analytical techniques it is possible to identify the biggest causes of lost production, be it speed, downtime, or quality related. Now we are able to select suitable methodologies and people to deliver the identified improvements. By implementing solutions that are effective for a hundred years we are able to then move onto the next biggest problem without needing to return to the original issue. As we deliver improvement upon improvement our performance begins to accelerate and we develop a culture of success in which our people and business are able to realise their full potential.

Like the international cricketers we have a decision to make. Do we want to rise to the challenges of an increasingly competitive market-place and become recognised for excellence, seizing the initiative and striving for improvement. Or do we stand still and ultimately no-one remembers us?

5 ways to identify opportunity

Written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe

Taking cost out of your manufacturing operation so that your unit can stay competitive will help you win your contracts again when they come up for tender – but how do you know what is the right amount of cost to take out, and from where?

Here are 5 ways to identify opportunities to take cost out:

1. Make sure your plan covers all 3 areas of major spend.

Direct Labour, Raw Materials and Packaging, and Overheads are the 3 major areas of manufacturing spend.  Your manufacturing ‘Overhead’ spend is probably mostly on Engineering, Salaries, and Energy. Does you plan cover all these areas, or are you missing a whole area of opportunity?

2. Measure your plans against ‘True’.
Your standards were useful for the costed submission that won your factory the work last time – but they’re no good for knowing what you can do in the future. Ensure you have an opportunity matrix that identifies opportunity against maximum run speed of the bottleneck, not the standard speed.  Don’t fool yourself that you’re doing well if you have a positive material variance, when the standard allows for 8% waste.

3. Set the right technology benchmarks.
You’re never going to achieve 100% – unless you haven’t followed point 2. So what is possible? 75%-98% depending on what technologies you are using. Could you achieve 98% with a technology change?

4. Understand how much of the gap you can close. 
40% in the first year is possible.  Have you allocated the resource to get you there? Is your improvement team skilled and efficient and able to close the gap?

5. Align capital plans and non-capital plans.
Invest your capital allowance for improvement in equipment that is going to increase the bottleneck rates or reduce headcount.  Investing in replacing performing equipment is simply trying to run away from root-cause problem solving, and increasing your depreciation to simply stay still in terms of unit cost – which could leave you in a nasty place in the future.   

 

Check out this video to see how we help FMCGs identify Improvement Opportunities with an onsite assessment.

Standardisation

Written by Graham Wilkinson, Senior Consultant, Lauras International

IMG_0096‘Standardisation’ means setting a standard, as well as bringing a condition into conformance with that standard. It provides the current best known method around how to carry out a particular job or task.

We have standards in our everyday life: Traffic Lights are universally red, amber, and green for example.

From a lean perspective, having Lean standard work means cost reduction and risk minimisation, as well as less time-spent training, diagnosing and troubleshooting abnormalities. It is an ideal method of minimising the number of variables that can have a negative affect on any given task.

For example, on a car assembly line, a standard is set for each stage of the assembly. If an abnormality were to occur during the process, the source of the problem would be quickly highlighted and diagnosed, as it would appear (visually) to be non-standard. This type of process stability means the outcome of any given process is predictable and thus, delivery times can also be forecasted with greater accuracy.

Here are the prerequisites for effective Lean standard work:

  • A stable process (no issues with quality, equipment or resources)
  • A blame-free culture, where staff are empowered to contribute to the development and improvement of the organisation
  • A holistic approach, with commitment to continuously improving standards
  • Using visual management controls to quickly identify abnormalities
  • A quick response system is in place to react to abnormalities

Remember, standards form the basis of continuous improvement, therefore an important part of creating a standard, is to continuously improve it!

Are you setting standards in your manufacturing environment – and doing everything you can to improve them? 

Who is in Power?

Written by Erica Bassford, Head of Aspire, Lauras International

I recently asked a group of Front Line Managers ‘Who holds power in your workplace?’ Not surprisingly they focussed on the Legitimate Power, given by virtue of the organisational structure. At the top of their list was their MD followed by their Directors and then their Managers. If their position alone did not get action then using Reward (if I do this well, I might get a pay rise) or Coercion (I had better do it, else my boss might discipline me) usually did the trick.

Web_Erica_Resources-300x166When the group considered ‘What is power?’ they soon realised that the ability to get people to do something they wouldn’t otherwise have done doesn’t rest solely with management. Other people within their organisation, without grand job titles, also had power. They had key influencers throughout their business.

When asked what these individuals had that gave them power they identified two key elements; they had either gained respect for who they were (Referent Power) or had gained respect for their knowledge and experience (Expert Power).

The skill of a Great Leader is not to accumulate power but to manage others with power. Which people in your organisation have the greatest power to get others to act? Are they leading others astray?

Identify who has the power in your business then share with them your vision, not forgetting to include where they fit within that vision. Give these individuals open and honest constructive feedback, both of the things they do well and of their short comings.

Don’t forget Great Leaders don’t have all the answers so solicit feedback, listen and be prepared to make adjustments too.

If you’re looking to harness the power of your workforce, and develop Great Leaders in your business, get in touch today to see how our ‘Aspire – Producing Excellence‘ programs could help.

Lost in France (getting nowhere fast without a Roadmap)

Written by Jason Gledhill, Head of Reliable Maintenance, Lauras International 

Whilst recently creating an Improvement Project Roadmap for a new client I was reminded of the need to update my satnav following last years holiday…

After 2 weeks of relaxation and sun in southern France it was time to drive back to Montpellier airport. We decided to leave plenty of time for the 90 minute journey and rather than take the motorway, we would see some of France via the minor roads. Six hours prior to check-in we were on our way.

Roundabout

The issue started when we reached our first round-a-bout. From the three possible exits, two would lead us to our destination, but which direction should we take? No need to worry, we had plenty of time, so we decided to take the first exit. Numerous kilometres and round-a-bouts later we realised that we were a third of the way into our journey time and we weren’t getting any closer to our destination. We had better consult the map!

Unfortunately our road map, which was kindly supplied by the care hire company, didn’t have the level of detail that would show our exact location. We knew where we wanted to be but not exactly how to get there.

The gentle sightseeing trip, with plenty of time for a relaxing lunch soon turned into a mad panic, with terse conversations and clenched jaws. Check in time was getting closer would we make it in time? What would we do if we missed the plane?

After some frantic driving and more by luck than design we managed to reach the airport, take a deep breath, and check in on time. Not a great end to an enjoyable vacation.

When starting any journey, be it travel or an Improvement Programmes, it is imperative that detailed planning is undertaken prior to taking the first steps.

As with my journey in France, the first round-a-bout or decision taken, if not correctly thought through can have undesireable consequences. The full understanding of these consequences is often not realised until it is too late and numerous other decisions have been taken based on this first poorly thought through judgement.

The more detailed the plan the more likely the journey or project will stay on track with regards to outputs and timings. As the old idiom says” le diable est dans le detail” or “the devil is in the detail”.

Regular progress reviews against these plans need to be undertaken and position against plan revised to ensure an enjoyable journey doesn’t become a mad panic.

If you’re in the process of creating an Improvement Project Roadmap and would like it sense checked, then get in touch, we’d be happy to help.

The Powerful Pareto Principle

Written by Nathanial Marshall, Senior Consultant at Lauras International.

Imagine that you’ve just stepped into a new role. Unsurprisingly, you’ve inherited a whole host of problems that need your attention, but how do you decide which problems you need to deal with first…?

Lauras International recommends using the Pareto Principle to target your top losses.

The Pareto Principle, or ’80-20 Rule’ is one of the simplest and most powerful management tools available. It is a simple technique that is extremely helpful in bringing quick and easy clarity to complex situations and problems, especially when deciding where to focus effort and resources.

Pareto’s Principle is named after the man who first discovered and described the ’80-20′ phenomenon, Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923), an Italian economist and sociologist. An academic, Pareto was fascinated by social and political statistics and trends, and the mathematical interpretation of socio-economic systems.

He first observed the ’80-20′ principle when researching and analysing wealth and income distribution trends in nineteenth-century England. Pareto noted that broadly 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the wealth.

While the very first application of the Pareto Principle was originally in Pareto’s suggestion that “Eighty percent of the wealth is held by twenty percent of the people,” the principle was and can be extended to apply to almost all other distribution scenarios as well.

The Pareto Principle (at a simple level) suggests that where two related data sets or groups exist (typically cause and effect, or input and output), they often show certain behaviour. For example:

  • “80% of output is produced by 20 percent of input”
  • “80% of outcomes are from 20 percent of causes”
  • “80% of the downtime comes from 20 percent of problems”
  • “80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers”
  • “80% of a company’s complaints come from 20% of its customers”

So how would you apply the Pareto Principle in your area?

There are 7 key steps to analysing a problem using the Pareto Principle:

  1. Identify the area/subject/problem you want to breakdown and prioritise
  2. Create a set of criteria you want to measure this against
  3. Collect data
  4. Analyse the data for each set of criteria
  5. Create a bar chart for each set of criteria
  6. Look for the Pareto effect
  7. Resolve the issue using Problem Solving Tools.

Example – Downtime Reduction:

Pareto

This demonstrates a perfect Pareto effect that 80% of downtime (800 of 1000 mins) is caused by 4 reason codes (4/20 reason codes=20%). By prioritising and reducing downtime in these areas, you will make the biggest difference.

 

For more detail about the 7 steps, or if you’d like help deciding where to focus Continuous Improvement effort and resources to target your top losses – then please get in touch.