Make Small Changes – One at a Time

When starting to implement lean strategies in a facility many people are tempted to make sweeping changes to the way everything works.  While there are undoubtedly many problems or opportunities for improvement in just about every workplace it is important to address these problems in a calm and rational manner which will promote the ongoing improvement.  Changing one thing at a time is important for a variety of reasons both obvious and hidden.

Why Small Changes

There are many important reasons why implementing small changes is a more effective way to get the long term change and success you’re looking for.  The following are just a few of the most important reasons why avoiding sweeping changes in favor of doing smaller adjustments one at a time is best:

  • Tracking – When you put in multiple changes at once you can’t accurately identify which of the changes caused the results.  Whether the changes improved something or caused more problems, you won’t know which item it was that is responsible.  With one change at a time you can easily track the benefits or problems caused by each adjustment.
  • Quick Wins – Rather than spending weeks or even months planning large changes and getting the approvals from everyone involved it is much better to take on smaller changes.  You can get approval much easier and you can take a small project like this from concept to completion very quickly so you can easily show the effectiveness of your changes.
  • Focused – When you are putting in one change or adjustment at a time you can remain laser focused on that exact issue.  This will help you avoid getting distracted by multiple different items demanding your attention.
  • Responsibility – When each project consists of one small change it is much easier to have a single point of responsibility throughout the process.  This is great both for recognizing achievement and identifying who is responsible if something goes wrong.
  • Buy In – It is much simpler to get buy in from either upper management or the individuals who will be directly affected by the change when they recognize that it is only a small change with a fairly limited scope of impact.  They will be more willing to take on this limited risk to see how it works, and with successes they will gain trust in your abilities and the lean processes.

Long Term Success

Implementing these smaller changes may seem tedious at first, especially when you have a long list of different things which need to be done.  The important thing, however, is to remember you should be more interested in the long term success of the facility.  Rather than thinking about how to take any facility from where it is today to perfection as quickly as possible, consider the fact that it is more important to get their successfully than quickly.

With a series of smaller changes you will be able to manage the risk better, and in many cases you can even identify additional improvement opportunities as you go.  The end result will be a much stronger facility which runs more efficiently and smoothly for everyone involved.

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Antonio Ferraro

On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, I strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. My knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. I believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier workplace. Connect with Antonio on Google+