Trying to achieve Process Excellence? It does not matter whether it is an in-house
business process or an outsourced one! The same kinds of process excellence accomplishments achieved in manufacturing, especially Japanese Automobile Manufacturing, are possible in services also! For the brave and far-sighted!
John Dowd, writes an excellent article, The Japanese foundation of quality. Even though this holds a lot of lessons for manufacturing, especially automobile manufacturing, they are even more widely applicable in services.
As in, very successful documented cases of successful American companies providing services, bucking the industry trend, and being profitable, fun places to work!
John Dowd argues that Mutual Respect and Trust has to extend to people actually doing the work, as in manufacturing cars and their suppliers and their suppliers’ suppliers! That’s how The Toyota Production System got rid of silly ideas like statistical quality control methods like inspection! They trust the supplier to provide parts within the required tolerances 100% of the time. Till that is achieved, they will be working with the supplier and internally within the manufacturing floor to perfect the system till that level of perfection is achieved.
Same thing can be done in Services as companies like Southwest Airlines prove!
Southwest Airlines stumbled upon empowering their gate agents and people responsible for turning planes around in airports to do the right thing, any thing to achieve what they needed to.
At a very early stage in their history, Southwest was operating only out of three airports in Texas and had three planes, exactly. They could not afford more than 20 minutes to take all the incoming luggage off, fuel it, clean it and loan it with the outgoing luggage and get it ready for the next flight.
They just told the agents at thegate and guys on the tarmac, please find a way to do it in 20 minutes, save our company!. They did! Now their planes fly 10.5 hours in a day compared to 8 hours or so for most other airlines!
No wonder they are doing better than other airlines.
Same things for services and business processes – in-house or outsourced! Mutual Respect and Trust enables people to achieve outstanding process excellence!
It’s even more crucial in services, since in most cases, it is people dealing with people!
At least in Manufacturing, it is people dealing with a mix of machines and people!
That’s the essence of Process Excellence in services. Beyond metrics, measurement, process improvement really depends upon the level of service provided in person or on the phone.
And that’s a long journey and one that needs buy-in of the fundamentals! Those that do over a long period like Southwest, win. Others, wither away!
Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.
— Booker T. Washington