Change is hard, but is not changing harmful? That’s a question I asked my lean operations guru Ed Klaczak as I’ve watched more and more CEOs and owners resist change and opt to “do nothing.” Now in certain circumstances, this can be an appropriate decision. If you don’t have complete data, making a decision might actually work against you. However, when it comes to operations, doing nothing can cripple your business. Here’s how:
Machines will break down. Let’s first start with a literal example of doing nothing operationally. What if you didn’t perform any kind of preventative maintenance on your equipment? No sharpening of blades. No lubricating of parts. Over time, you’ll experience a degradation of equipment, and your product will suffer.
Processes will break down. If you don’t analyze your processes and collect data on your outputs, then over time your operations will fall apart, just like your machines. A lack of data and/or processes means that you have no consistency in your organization.
Without improving your quality and reassessing your operations on a continuous basis, people will do things the way they want to do them. One production shift won’t be as fast as another, or they’ll fail to transport the product correctly. That’s when your output becomes inconsistent. This breakdown leads to yet another problem: Your people.
People will break down. If either equipment or processes break down, your people are sure to follow. This won’t be anything that happens overnight, but eventually company morale will decline and people will start to leave. Why should they care about your operation if you don’t?
Klaczak notes that these types of problems could become “catastrophic” to your business. If variations are allowed to compound, it’s conceivable that entire shipments could be delayed or botched. Internal yields might be reduced to a point where a product is no longer profitable.
So why don’t more owners take action and avoid the pitfalls of “doing nothing” on an operational basis? It may be a case where an owner fears change and doesn’t want to rock his own internal ship. He might use the excuse that he’s too busy to analyze his operations and start tracking data. That’s a fear of the unknown.
It may also be a case where an owner has too much data, and is suffering “paralysis by analysis.” An owner is fearful to make a call, worried that they might choose the wrong options. That’s a fear of making a decision. In each case, the impact on your business will be a slow, painful death. In my next post, I’ll touch on some areas you should consider from an operations standpoint as opposed to “doing nothing.”