Wednesday, March 7, 2012

P4 Lean Strategy- "1P Seems Really Hard, How Do I Implement 4P's At Once?"

Many of us, when we started trying to apply lean thinking to real life, naturally were very excited about using our newly acquired tools. Imagine coming home from Home Depot, running into the house with a bag of 5 or 10 new tools, and rushing around the house pulling them out of the bag, hammering, cutting, sanding, edging anything that isn't standing still. Also imagine trying to recruit family members and friends to join in!  Next imagine frantically looking to use your new tools on their stuff! And then, when they finally tell you to get the heck away from them, you label them as "anchor draggers".

Luckily for my company, I came to my senses very quickly (maybe 2 months in). The revelation for me was when our company president and I re-arranged our shipping department with the help of some reluctant shipping guys. We got to use 5S, POUS (Point of Use Storage), the concept of flow, spaghetti diagrams (a bunch of our new fun tools! Yeah!!!!) When the shipping work re-started and chaos resulted, I heard through the grapevine the following exchange:
Employee #1-"why are we having trouble shipping stuff this week?"
Employee #2 (who participated in the tool party)-"I don't know, go ask Bill".

That was lesson one in RESPECT for PEOPLE. It is not respectful for ME to fix YOUR process. Over the next 5 years, we developed a business strategy that eventually became known as P4. Four things need to be in your mind at all times (this takes discipline). It is sort of like riding a unicycle, patting your head, rubbing your belly, and chewing gum at the same time. With practice, you can do it. Today, I'll do a brief summary of each P, and then dig into each one, giving examples, in subsequent posts. So, here they are:

Philosophy/Purpose- "Why are we in business?" In most cases, it is not merely to make money. Why was the business started? If you haven't figured this one out, everyone will assume your sole purpose is to make as much money as possible for yourself.

Develop your People & Partners- "People are our #1 asset" How many times have you heard this? How much time do you invest in training and developing them every day? Why are they STARS when you hire them and No GOOD a short time later? What did we do as leaders to develop them to a point where we need to let them go?

The right Process will produce the right result-conversely, bad processes yield bad results. Here is where we get to use our fancy bag of tools! Yeah!!! But, it is also a core belief.

Make our Problems as visible as possible and the curriculum for our organizational learning. The key mindset here is "No problems is a PROBLEM". When we say we have no problems, all it means is that they are hidden, we can't see them, or we haven't looked hard enough. There are many things in our business that are in the way and hide our problems. 

Well, that is the Readers Digest version of P4 and how it applies to your business!. When all 4 components, are kept in the front of your mind, you will slowly transform your business into a fun place of beauty with incredible cash flow, and engaged and interested teammates. I promise.

Next P4 Blog- Some great real life examples of the first P-Philosophy

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