Don’t Let Luck be the Major Factor in How You Define and Transfer Critical Process Knowledge

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Process Improvement | 0 comments

One of the largest contributors to inconsistency or variability in an organization is caused by lack of a written method, i.e., a procedure, work instruction, or standard work.  When no documented method exists, knowledge of a particular job is based on tribal information and most workers have their own way of doing the work.  Often their is a lack of an effective method for defining what is truly critical and important for the successful completion of the job.  Many times, personal preference takes over, which can vary from one person to the next.

If there isn’t a process for clearly defining what’s critical for a job then the transfer of any critical information is really just luck of the draw.  If a new employee is lucky, she will be paired up with a skilled and experienced person to train them.  If not, bad habits and practices are perpetuated into the future.  In many cases, the “best” worker is often not the best trainer.

In addition to the above shortcomings, there is usually limited or little follow up to verify the results of the training.  Without well defined requirements it is almost impossible to determine  the effectiveness of the training.

In their book, Toyota Talent, Liker and Meier, gave a great example of how bad the cumulative effect of these three factors can be.  Let’s say your organization is 80% effective at defining the critical requirements for performing a job; 80% effective at training new employees; and 80% effective in training follow up.  Multiplying those three values together (known as the rolled throughput yield, or RTY) gives a process that is 51% efficient.  Not very good!  To have an overall process that is 90% efficient, each element would need to be close to 97%, meaning you need to do an outstanding job in defining what’s important, have a great training process and trainers, and a great follow up process to ensure results and effectiveness.

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