Lean Techniques

So… What do you do?

By Behaviour, Business, Communication, Continuous Improvement, Customer Service, Data, Employee Engagement, Food for thought, High Performance, Information, Lean Techniques, Lean Thinking, Management, Performance, Robotic Process Automation, RPA, Technology


In the past 7 years as a Lean Continuous Improvement (CI) practitioner, the most common question I get asked is, “So… What is it you do in your role?”  Usually, in response to this question,  I pause for a moment and tend to describe the technical aspects of my job, whether it be: achieving financial benefits through the delivery of projects, releasing capacity through streamlining processes, describing my role as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and the list most definitely goes on.  In all cases: I’m often greeted with a blank face, disinterest, statements such as “that sounds complicated” and then the topic of conversation quickly changes to something different and more likely understood by the unaffiliated.


While on holiday in Europe and after a repeat of the same conversation I took a moment to reflect on why I kept receiving the same response, I was reminded of the most used definition of insanity: ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.’  In my moments of reflection, I started to consider the statement usually presented back to me ‘that sounds complicated.’  When I think about what I do on a daily basis, none of it is rocket science, nor does it require a doctorate in astrophysics.

Leans and Continuous improvement can be and in my opinion ‘is’ simple on most occasions, with the true complexity being engaging with those people impacted by any potential changes.  Remember, everyone is different!  We all have our own set of values, beliefs, individual purposes or objectives, all of which make embedding change that little bit more difficult.  So, understanding ‘what’s in it for them’ (the voice of my customer) and being able to articulate it in a simple way when conversing with them is important in helping them see or think slightly differently about a change to the way they’ve always done things.

Why then have I and others tended to complicate a response to this question, when part of the focus behind creating value is, to simplify things?  Could it be that my typically technical response is some form of self-preservation driven by the fact that creating a culture of continuous improvement is the goal and if that is achieved my role may no longer be required?  Maybe it is linked to the fact I separate work from my social life and have completely forgotten the fact the concept of continuous improvement can be applied equally in your social life just as much as in a business setting.

I came to the realisation that a significant part of me being able to fulfil my purpose is me helping and supporting others.  Something I do every day and is the foundation behind my job.  As a Lean CI Practitioner, we do this by delivering projects which may release capacity or deliver financial savings for our clients or businesses.  It also includes the facilitation of Lean training courses, the coaching and mentoring of people along their development paths.  It was at this point that I was able to answer the original question simply enough whilst creating the appetite for others to want to know the ‘how’.


Now when I am asked the question, “What do you do?” my response is quite simply, I support both businesses and people in realising their potential by sharing a simple approach which will help achieve their goals and ultimately their purpose.

How would you respond to the question and if you’re not a practitioner, would response provide enough intrigue to want to find out more?

For more information, please contact us via our website at Alternatively, follow us on social media for tips, insights and updates!

How to effectively execute your digital transformation strategy

By Data, High Performance, Information, Lean Techniques, Lean Thinking, Management, Performance, Robotic Process Automation, RPA, Technology

Digital Transformation has been a corporate buzz-term for the last 5 years. Like any latest trend, people have taken an incredibly macro-level concept. They just throw it on any damaged business as the silver bullet we’ve all been waiting for to a point where most SME’s see digital transformation as a fairy tale.

Here’s 5 reason why it doesn’t work:

  • Digital Transformation is not the collection of technology mashed together.
  • There has been no strategy for change developed
  • Senior Management have driven requirements rather than people on the ground
  • The entire system of operations hasn’t been considered.
  • They looked to emulate what their competition is doing

So, how to effectively execute your digital transformation strategy?

  1. Talk to your customers; both internal and external – what’s not working? Why doesn’t it work? What’s the impact?
  2. Test that what you have been told is correct. Have you observed this? Why did this happen?
  3. Tell your people what you have found. Create engagement.
  4. Develop short, medium- and long-term solutions with the business and customers.
  5. Test quickly – fail fast
  6. Measure the success – is this solving the problems diagnosed at the start?

For more information, please contact us via our website at Alternatively, follow us on social media for tips, insights and updates!

Why is it important to select appropriate processes for RPA?

By Data, High Performance, Information, Lean Techniques, Lean Thinking, Management, Performance, Robotic Process Automation, RPA, Technology

Every organisation has processes, and some will have thousands! But, are all processes suitable for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)? The answer is no. Not all processes are suitable nor can be automated. Therefore, to save on valuable funding and resource, it’s vital to identify the appropriate candidate processes for RPA.

In this article, we will cover what some of the key characteristics are for a Robot (or ‘Bot’), and the reasons why is it important to select the right process to apply RPA:

The Characteristics of a ‘Bot’…

        • It is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution’. There will be preparation and work definition required prior to the Bot being built.
        • A Bot needs to be designed to conduct tasks just as how a human was trained to execute the job. The Bot will then have to run through testing to ensure that it’s doing what it should be doing
        • Although a Bot doesn’t need toilet or lunch breaks, a Bot doesn’t have an infinite capacity to carry out work. There is only so much work 1 Bot can carry out (although, a Bot can do the work of between 3-8 Full-time employee, and sometimes much more)

Why is it important to select the most appropriate process for RPA?

      • The groundwork, set-up and test of a Bot cost money. A chunk of this can be wasted if a Bot is deployed to a process that is not suitable to deliver what the organisation wants.
      • The selected process is the main contributor to the success and benefits of applying a Bot.

Complex process + low frequency + low volume + low business value = Less Effective

Simple + high volume + high frequency + high value process = More Effective

      • Clients that invest in the preparation, development, testing and implementation of a Bot want to see a high return on that investment. Therefore, it is important that the right processes are selected for the Bot, and that the Bot is loaded with value-add processes that keep the Bot 100% productive.

What type of processes should we look out for as candidates for RPA?

For more information, please contact Simon Hopley or our RPA team via our website at Alternatively, follow us on social media to keep updated.

5 tools I never leave home without

5 tools I never leave home without!

By Lean Techniques, Lean Thinking, Process Improvement
I see plenty of lists containing tools and techniques used in Lean Six Sigma projects. I don’t always agree with every item on every list but that can often come down to a matter of opinion. The lists I see are general to the term Lean Six Sigma so I thought I’d offer up a quick list of the Lean Six Sigma tools I believe fit really well into Service improvement (not manufacturing). Read More