Engaging an organization's people is the number-one factor in creating a culture of excellence, says Preston. Second is the ability to see waste within the organization, then motivate others to do the same.
Preston describes exercises that teach the value of uncovering waste - one of which he calls "going on a rattlesnake hunt." The culprit can be anything from a maintenance issue to the way in which workers clean up up the factory. "It could just be something that's not world-class," he says.
Companies might be skilled in numbers, says Preston, but they don't necessarily know how to apply them in an engaging way. In his "rattlesnake hunt" exercise, three teams of five people each move through a facility with cameras, taking pictures of anything they deem to be waste. Even in the cleanest of environments, they will typical return with as many as 80 examples, he says.
The pictures are then placed on the wall, and the winning team gets a modest prize. Then employees are given three days "to kill as many snakes as they can." More rewards, such as the lunch of their choice, are dispensed to the victors of that stage of the exercise.
"Everybody wants to do it," says Preston. "The engagement creates a pull for wanting to know more."
Preston gives the word "pull" another meaning, describing how it's necessary to smooth out the kinks in a chain by stretching it taut. The metaphor offers "a clear direction" for businesses seeking out waste in their operations, he says, adding that "there's always something to improve."
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, supply chain quality, warehouse management, supply chain metrics, supply chain planning
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