MMAP Your Processes

This week I am going tactical with an approach I have found very helpful in creating continually improving business systems.  As a Master Black Belt, I have seen numerous high profile, high impact performance improvement initiatives.  Many of them achieved great things, delivered ROI, and enhanced careers.  Far too often though, these business systems that rose to high performance slipped backward over time into a state of disarray and poor performance.  Alternatively, they sometimes maintain initially achieved performance levels, but do not continue to evolve.  MMAPing your process is a simple guide you can use to establish a process management framework ensuring long term continuous of any business system.

No, MMAP is not a typo.  It stands for Measurement system, Metrics, Accountability, and Process.  I tell the Lean Six Sigma Black Belts I mentor to “MMAP the control phase of your project and MMAP your processes or I will not sign off on your final toll-gate.”  This is a simple approach that any business person can apply, Lean Six Sigma Certification not required.

MMAP Defined

Measurement System:  How will the inputs, operating parameters, outputs, and outcomes of the process be measured?  Ideally it will be part of an automated enterprise measurement system.  However, it can be localized or even manual recording in MS Excel.  Either way, there should be clear definition of what is measured, how it is measured, why it is measured, standardized analysis such as control charts, and definition of how to calculate values.

Metrics: The performance thresholds, control limits, acceptable values, and other specific mathematical targets the measurement system is measuring.  These metrics must be represented within reports generated by the measurement system.

Accountability: Who is accountable for the continuous improvement of the process or business system.  Who ensures the measurement system works, the metrics are relevant and accurate, who analyses the data and reports, who stewards the process to improvement when data indicates change is required?

Process:  What is the process for conducting analysis, proposing change, vetting, approving, implementing improvements, and verifying outcomes?  Examples include the Deming Cycle (Plan Do Check Act) and the Six Sigma (DMAIC) – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.

In government and some large businesses, one can add a second P to MMAPP the process.  This second P is for Policy.  In this case, we ask has policy been updated to ensure the MMAP will be enduring and enforced over time.

It has been my experience that even very expensive Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training often under emphasizes the importance of a solid approach to ongoing control of processes.  Much time is spent on how to define  and analyze processes.  Further, the tools of how to measure process performance are typically explained well.  However, the method for tying it all together in the control phase is often missing.  I have found this simple approach very useful in providing structure to continual process management.  I hope you find it useful in your process improvement endeavors.

“Processes do not manage themselves”

Times are Tough, Stick to Your Strategy

In times like these when new business is hard to find, top employees are weighing their options, and suppliers are begging for help, you must have a clear and concise strategy and you must align all resources and activities to that strategy. This week’s post is to share a tool that will help your organization operate daily in a manner that aligns with strategy, maximizing the effect of your precious resources. If you are like me, you have more great ideas than you do resources to execute. Further, it is natural for managers to see any opportunity as a good opportunity in lean times. The worst thing you can do in these times is chase every opportunity that comes along in the hopes that something good happens. One of my favorite axioms “Focus and Achieve” applies now more than ever. This doesn’t mean you need to be myopic. Not at all. It just means you need to have a good strategy, SMART objectives, and effective initiatives in place. Then you need to track your market and competitors closely, adjust smartly, and do not allow shiny bobbles to distract you away from your strategy.

The tool best suited for keeping your organization’s activities in alignment with strategy is the goal deployment matrix. This tool is from the Japanese Hoshin Kanri body of knowledge and it is used successfully in numerous high performing organizations such as Toyota, Xerox, and Caterpillar. An example of the matrix is shown below.

Goal Deployment Matrix

Typical Goal Deployment Matrix

Using the tool is simple Once you have identified your goals and objectives, enter them in to the left most column. Then work with your internal teams and departments to define the means for accomplishing these objectives and enter them into the top row. This is often accomplished through a back and forth vetting process. Assign ownership and metrics for the objectives and the means. If you are a Lean Six Sigma organization, you will charter the means, assign Black Belts, etc. Then use this tool to review status at least monthly. If you have a large organization, you can cascade these goal deployment matrices to avoid creating one overwhelming document. Now, every great idea and every request for funding must be analyzed against the goal deployment matrix for fit and alignment. Further, if progress on strategic objectives and means is not apparent in monthly reviews, you may have a hidden factory that needs to be exposed.

To learn about the entire body of knowledge for goal deployment or Hoshin Kanri, comment here and I will help you as time permits, or you can find a lot of good information on the Internet.

Effective and efficient operations don’t happen by chance.

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