Manage Workflow and the Local Optima Problem

It is a very widely held belief in business that each station in a production line should be working as hard as it can in order to maximise its efficiency. This might be a car assembly line or an accountant’s office processing tax returns using several different stages in the accounting process.  In other words, each stage is working at its Local Optimum.  Generations of Cost Accountants have encouraged this and spend endless amounts of time trying to split, for example, the cost of electricity over each work stage in the production cycle. This is probably seriously flawed thinking.  Blue Belt


SM5.0 Theory of Constraint (TOC) Find Remove Bottleneck

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The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is an important optimising technique that focuses on improving the throughput of work at the (usually) single bottleneck or constraint in the workflow.  

This Skills Module draws together a number of the 12Faces articles on the subject.  One research project demonstrated that 89% of improvement in a manufacturing business came from the application of TOC. Yellow Belt.  button LMS subscribe

How to Track progress with Fever Charts

Very often we would benefit from some visual method of alerting us to the fact that some process is becoming critical and needs our attention. One such visual aid is a “fever chart”. 

How to Calculate Time to Produce each Product with Takt Time

Takt is the German word for the baton that an orchestra conductor uses to regulate the tempo of the music. Takt time may be thought of as a measurable beat time, rate time or heartbeat.

Takt time is the average time between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit, when these production starts are set to match the rate of customer demand.

In Lean, Takt time is the rate at which a finished product needs to be completed in order to meet customer demand.  Blue Belt

How Dice Games Simulate Profit Generation

Throughout the 12Faces, we talk about several different workflow and inventory models and their respective merits.  You can quickly gain an impression of how these models work in practice by playing a simulation game with a set of dice.  This will demonstrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various models and their impact on your profit.  Blue Belt

SM2.3 80/20 and the Theory of Constraints (TOC)

This is 12Faces’s equivalent of Godzilla meets the Hulk!  In our language it is the mixing of the 80/20 Rule, which promises up to 16x growth and the Theory of Constraints (TOC) approach, which describes the most liberating aspect of your production line.

80/20 Principle and the Theory of Constraints

This is 12Faces equivalent of Godzilla meets the Hulk! In our language it is the mixing of the 80/20 Rule, which promises up to 16x growth and the Theory of Constraints (TOC) approach, which describes the most liberating aspect of your production line.

How Kanban Improves Work Flow

Kanbans are a tool for structuring how work flows into the work-in-progress queues so that workers do not get overloaded and can use their time most effectively. Kanbans, and variations on them, are widely used in software projects (e.g. Scrum and Agile) and manufacturing (e.g. Lean and Six Sigma). Blue Belt

How Kaizen Leads to Continuous Incremental Improvement

Most improvement is an incremental process.  It is rare to get something completely right the first time so, over time, we improve parts of the system so as to continue to improve the whole.  A Japanese phase for such incremental improvement is ‘Kaizen”.  Read this article for insights into incremental improvement of your business.  Yellow Belt

Take Advantage of Agile / Scrum / Kanban to Increase Productivity

In a smaller business there is always plenty to do and many demands on a managers most limited resource; time.  Often the owners time is the major bottleneck on the growth of the business (see the introductory article to Theory of Constraints).  Plenty of other businesses have struggled with prioritising time before you and several techniques that are very similar have evolved.  The three best known of these are named Agile / Scrum / Kanban.  Various references cite improvements in team productivity ranging from 25% to 300% by using these methods. This article introduces these concepts and a way of using a free software app named Trello  to manage the process.  A mix of Yellow and Blue Belt introductory material.

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