One of the key elements of a successful LEAN initiative is properly measuring the process. In simple terms, if you treasure it, measure it. This can apply to anything your team is trying to improve, sustain or eliminate. However, you must consider what you measure, how you measure it, and what you do with the information.
What should you measure?
It’s important to know if you are measuring an activity, which is also called a lead measure, or a result, which is a lag measure. An activity is often the direct improvement you are trying to influence, such as an increase in the performance rate or quality, reduced rework or a decrease in downtime. The result is typically why you are making an improvement. This could be fewer injuries, reduced costs, or increased customer satisfaction. Remember, you can influence the activity; the measured result tells you if that improvement had an impact.
How do you measure?
When you decide how you measure your improvement, you must consider the time, impact and accuracy of the information you collect. Have a clear plan on collecting information that is sustainable and practical. Get the whole team involved in collecting and recording the information to increase their awareness and sense of ownership in the process.
What do you do with the information?
The final and most important step is what you do with the information. This is where many efforts tend to fail. You should strive to share the information with your team as often as possible and have it highly visible and easy to understand. You can do this in morning huddles, on status boards in the work area, or by frequent emails, conversations, or update meetings. Be ready to celebrate and reward your successes, but also have a deliberate and timely plan prepared to react to any lapses or setbacks.
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