Yesterday I received a news alert: prepare for a winter storm. The governor declared a state of emergency. The state’s department of transportation advised residents to stay off the roads.
The snow prediction was for 1-2 inches.
If you live in a northern state, Canada, or somewhere that big snow accumulations are a regular occurrence, you may have just laughed out loud. But if you live in a southern state like I do, then a prediction of 1-2 inches in an afternoon merits some warning because people aren’t typically used to the driving conditions that snow and ice bring. It is important to differentiate the message and the instructions for each particular situation.
This isn’t just about weather. In your organization, you have employees who come to you with different skills, backgrounds, knowledge, languages, and perspectives. If your organization has several locations or several departments or operating units, the challenges, the teams, and the processes may differ. Of course, we all know the value of standard work and standardized processes, but if you have two locations and one has been affected by staffing or supply chain issues while the other hasn’t, the processes may not be the same.
The challenge, therefore, is to get everyone on the same page while mitigating these different situations. You must differentiate the support and training you provide depending on the situation, employees’ needs and other factors.
But what if we could get everyone the same base knowledge? There would be tremendous value to your organization if everyone had common vocabulary and there was a common jumping off point for everyone from the front line to the front office. That would allow you to better engage everyone in problem-solving and empower your entire organization in the continuous improvement journey. With a baseline established, you could then differentiate with supplemental trainings, instructions, and learning opportunities to address specific needs and variables.
Creating this baseline of knowledge is one reason why AME will soon announce a new virtual back to basics summit that will be free for all AME members. The summit will be a series of virtual sessions that occur over several days in March. We will cover topics like value stream mapping, 5S, kaizen, lean leadership, 8 wastes, gemba walks, kata, and more. It will be an effective refresher for those already on their journey and an opportunity for AME members to get everyone on the same page.
Once everyone is working from that same shared knowledge, they can apply it to their situation.
That’s exactly what happened with the emergency declaration of snow in Virginia yesterday. If you live in Canada, an announcement about 1-2 inches is probably not necessary, but 1-2 inches of snow in Virginia requires residents to prepare and think back to previous experiences driving in snow. The National Weather Service differentiated by communicating about the Virginia snow in a way they might not in a place like Colorado. They provided information, which in turn, empowered residents to apply that information as appropriate, just like the AME back to basics summit will provide baseline training and information and allow individuals and teams to apply it as appropriate for their situation.
The need for common knowledge and vocabulary is vital to the success of any continuous improvement initiative. I hope that you’ll join us for our back to basics summit this March. This is the first of two planned virtual summits that AME will offer for free to its members this year. Stay tuned for more information that will be announced soon.
As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.