What is a bottleneck, and who cares?
Anyone who has managed an operational area, whether in manufacturing, services or regulatory/government operations, knows the headache of bottlenecks, those troublesome spots in the process where production gets held up for any number of reasons. They are as inevitable as the turning of seasons, and unfortunately we get too accustomed to them, but they still need to be broken. Bottlenecks generate enormous costs from unnecessary overtime to staff frustration and conflict, to unhappy customers, to lost productivity. In order to break bottlenecks, managers need to create an environment of continual process improvement.
What is continual process improvement, and why does it matter?
Process improvement is a means of devising and incorporating both significant process breakthroughs, and small incremental improvements. The approach used here is adapted from the “Plan-Do-Study-Act” (PDSA) Cycle developed by W. Edwards Deming, and the Toyota Production System (TPS, a type of lean manufacturing). See Appendix A below for helpful links.
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