No, not flat caps or the popular with youngster’s band, I’m talking about how organisations are aligned and focused. Otherwise known as “True North”.
Having worked with numerous organisations over the years, I always assume that all departments in them are aligned to have one common objective. This is not always the case and you often find in large complex businesses that they end up competing on different priorities, have different strategies and varying targets. Budgets can be set based on this and this can cause managers to lose sight of what the organisations Value is to the customer.
When introducing Lean thinking to organisations, the best ones involve senior management commitment and support to understand where they want to be and how they are going to get there.
True North as prescribed by Toyota is a concept and an ideal. It is not just a one-off programme, but a way of working, constantly improving to achieve the ideal. This can be summarised by the following steps:
- Specifying Value (Understanding what the customer needs and what they are willing to pay for)
- Identifying the Value Stream (understanding how this value is delivered to the customer)
- Making the process flow (relentlessly eliminating waste)
- Introducing Pull (delivering only on demand, Right First Time, focusing on correct quantities and timescales)
- Constantly aiming for perfection
This is an ever-evolving process and checking and resetting your Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measures regularly is key to ensuring that operational excellence is delivered in a coherent and logical way. It is the first step and also a check step on the journey and helps you to define value added and in turn, how all departments need to work together to achieve this. Once you understand your objectives and goals, you can then start to deploy your resources and improvement strategies, then start to measure your performance which will set you on the right path in one direction, the right one.