PE Skills for Leaders (Pt 1)

Last post about Process Excellence (PE) mentioned that processes can usually be expressed by the formula:

Y=f(x1, x2, x3…)

where Y is a discrete output & the x’s represent the major (critical few) inputs & process steps. With this in mind, here are some key skills & I look for & teach my leaders:

Be Clear on the Output:
> Consistently identify & communicate the correct “Y” (the output).
> Transfer customer needs into measurable, actionable targets (“customer specs” in PE lingo).
> You must also be clear on how you measure your outputs
> And finally be clear on the specific target for that measurement.

Understand Process:
> Apply “input->process->output” logic to all situations
> Be clear on which input+process combinations drive which specific outputs (understand cause & effect). This allows you to focus your improvement efforts on the right levers.
> Apply the whole “Y=f(x)” thing situationally. For example a specific project-level “x” probably has a statistical/linear relationship to a given “Y”. But as you move away from data-rich situations, this becomes less of a math equation and more of a judgment call.
> Map entire processes end to end, from the customer back to you.

Use Baseline Measures, & Think Statistically:
> Establish visible measures of key Input->Process->Output variables, and utilize this data to run your function. Again, don’t measure everything, just the important stuff.
> Display performance data for the process over time, compared against customer specs, wherever possible
> Take appropriate action based on data… Figure out if specific outlier data points are signals v. noise
> Do not be content to just manage your metrics by the averages…know that variation matters…push to understand and reduce the variation in your process

Are you clear on the outputs & targets for your processes?  Do you understand relationship between the inputs, process steps, & outputs for the processes you own?  Are you using data to understand how your process is performing?

More “PE skills for leaders” coming in part 2…

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