Focus on the Process and the Results Will Come

I am a huge fan of the Olympics. I am in awe of all the athletes and the dedication and training they put in to achieve the status of becoming an Olympian. As it turns out, this Olympics coincides with my vacation. This means I have the time to watch even MORE of the Olympics than usual.

Credit: CBS

Yesterday I was enjoying my morning coffee and watching the Olympics when on comes an interview with Kelci Bryant and Abigail Johnston, the two women who have broken the US diving drought in the Olympics and earned themselves silver medals in the women’s 3-meter synchronized springboard.

The interviewer asked them incessant questions, implying that their focus was on winning a medal. After about the fourth question on this subject, Kelci responded to him by saying something to the effect that they never focused on winning the medal. She continued by saying that what they did do is focus on the process of diving well. She then said that if they worked the process hard enough the results would come.  BRAVA! I said to myself. That is one very smart young lady.

I look to my own business and I can say the very same thing. Bishop-Wisecarver helps manufacturers and automation solution providers engineer linear and rotary motion products. Our 60-plus years of engineering expertise and best practices with more than 20,000 customers enables us to understand our customers’ design and application requirements, ensuring unique solutions that ship within two to three weeks. Our customers achieve 50 percent faster time to market, up to 100 percent lower maintenance and installed costs, product differentiation and longer product life.

What is the underlying backbone to being able to deliver this level of service to our customers? Our relentless focus on process. From lean/continuous improvement to engineering, sales and technology processes, we never stop improving our internal processes.

Scott Klososky likes to say the he who has the most data wins. I would revise that to say he who has the most data and best processes wins. Because, if you don’t have great processes, then you’ll never be able to truly exploit the data to its fullest potential.

So while setting the goal is important, it’s even more important to work on your processes because that constant refinement will result in achieving the goal.

What process has generated the biggest payoff to you? I’d love to hear your stories.

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One Response to Focus on the Process and the Results Will Come

  1. Paul Dean August 9, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Great writing Pamela and I share your emphasis on process. I would also add design. Two of the most important aspects of a business are design and process. Dell got their start because of their process (make-to-online order) and Apple is successful because of their designs.

    My own experience is with mass customization of a great family of products – custom windows and doors for the new home market in western Canada. We have some of the best designed products on the market and our process is based on make to order. The business grew from 4% of the market to 45% over a period of less than 10 years.

    I was personally responsible for the information system, so I relate to the ‘data’ aspect of a winning company. What made us successful was to design an information system around Lean and JIT principles of manufacturing. Traditionally manufacturers of window and doors made-to-stock based on analysis of sales and future sales predictions. This required a large stock of finished goods and a large WIP of standard parts. The lead time of a custom product was 4-8 weeks. We changed our perspective to making what the customer required just-in-time. On time delivery is one of the most important requirements of a new home builder and when we perfected our custom on-time-delivery system our business started to expand rapidly.

    One of the critical steps we took in building our system was to accurate define the bill-of-material (BOM) and bill-of-operations (BOO) of all our product families. When these are defined accurately – order quotations and fulfillment, supply chain management, custom manufacturing, scheduling, shop-floor operations, and delivery etc become more manageable and efficient.

    We found that our production lead-time reduced to 2 days, our takt time became 2 minutes (some production lines were producing products at the rate of one every 2 minutes). Finished goods stock became zero and WIP was 2 days – one day of production and one day being distributed to customers.

    It took a lot of time and effort to define our materials and processes in an information system but in the end it was well worth the effort. And to emphasize your closing remarks on continuous improvement – having an accurate definition of the BOMs and BOOs helps with constant refinement of our processes.