Throughout this blog series on the Tier Process, our argument has been twofold: 1.) The right processes produce the right results, and 2.) The Tier Process is the most effective and efficient manner for leaders to manage from the front lines (i.e., shopfloor management). In the first post, we provided an overview of the Tier Process, and in the second post we explained in detail the 5 Tiers of the Tier Process.
Everyday every person in an organization - from the C-suite down to the shopfloor - encounters problems or issues that they may not be able to solve on their own in an efficient manner. If you desire to cultivate a culture of continuous improvement, you will need a process for solving problems in a timely manner across the entire organization, which we believe the Tier Process provides is the best solution. In this final post, our aim is to provide the "why" for implementing the Tier Process, by laying out the top four reasons for doing so.
Visualization of Problems
Most of us have worked in places or engaged in relationships where problems or issues are hidden in order to not cause relational or professional disruption. If you have experienced this then you know that after a certain period of time the pile of unresolved problems eventually explodes creating an insurmountable disruption. What should we have done to prevent this reality? We should have made the problems visible and devised a specific plan for resolution. The Tier process provides a systematic approach to visualizing real data that contributed to the problem and focuses on driving quick resolutions.
Initiatives often fail because they are handed down from but not driven by the leadership. The Tier Process is meant to be driven by the leadership, and this driving doesn't take place in an office or conference room but rather on the shopfloor. Leadership ensures that all tier groups are held accountable and vice versa, and they manage by identifying gaps in plans and processes, generating corrective and preventative actions, and managing actions to completion.
The Tier Process produces more efficient communication through shorter response times and consistent and transparent information flow. Information flows between management and staff (both ways), within and between all value streams and service providers, and is based on a structured daily routine, standardized contents and reporting routes. This efficient information flow makes it possible to find a quick, fact-based decision and better information quality due to findings gained on-site (Gemba). Everyone involved agree upon escalation thresholds based on consistent and transparent targets, and have a common understanding of processes, need for action, and necessary improvements.
In manufacturing the operators are often the most underappreciated resource for solving problems and making improvements. However, the Tier Process directly engages employees at all levels, and in manufacturing the operators are engaged on a daily basis in problem solving and continuous improvement initiatives. Decisions in this process are made based on first-hand information: everyone sees the same, talks the same, and understands the same. This is achieved through active coaching and mentoring.
Active engagement of all staff members (motivation, appreciation, and support) builds trust and is the basis of an open-minded culture to discuss problems and continuous improvement. As was stated earlier, this process will not work without it being driven by leaders who believe in it and value their employees. The Tier Process is culture building endeavor, so it will take buy-in and patient endurance for all involved. However, once it becomes the daily routine of the entire organization, it will run like a well-oiled machine, creating a culture of problem awareness, problem solving, and continuous improvement.
If you would like to learn more about the Tier Process or need support in other areas of your organization, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.