Whether you are undertaking your first pass through operational excellence, or you have been through the cycle many times, your starting point should always be with “what is” rather than “what we thought.” Therefore, the first step starts with discovery.
Discovery can be undertaken in a number of ways using varying techniques. For example, if the information is buried in systems some process mining automated discovery may be appropriate.
In other situations, the information may only exist in someone’s head, in which case tools to quickly capture and document the process can be used. Remember, in many cases you may eliminate processes or steps, so there’s no need to worry too much about accuracy – as long as people are all using the same terms in the same way.
In collecting this knowledge you should also be listening to and soliciting ideas for change, it can be amazing how many great ideas already exist in an organization but are rarely voiced.
These ideas will be especially interesting if your operational excellence program is working in harmony with a business transformation initiative. The goals, objectives, and customers perspectives on transformation serve as great inputs to shape discovery and setting-up.
Success at this step looks like understanding how things currently are working, getting an understanding for what the people using the process or system think is not working well and why, and listening to how they might improve it. In other words, starting to get a better grasp of why things need to be done differently.
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