I have to admit that I’m fond of running. Regardless of the weather or the time of the year, three times per week I put on my running shoes and go outside. Depending on the season and the time of the day I spend anywhere between 30 minutes and 1,5 hour running. I run when I’m on a business trip, during holidays; it keeps me physically in shape and mentally sane.
But it’s not always an easy accomplishment. Every athlete has experienced it a few times; your muscles feel like you cannot take another step (or swim or climb or…). When your body is burning calories like crazy, the oxygen levels in your blood may become too low leading to, what biologists call, anaerobic dissimilation. This means that you do get the extra energy, but at the cost of producing lactic acid. This acid causes your muscles to cramp up, so you have to slow down, and burn calories at a lower rate, which in return consumes less oxygen, until your body is balanced again. Although not the nicest thing to happen when you’re all set for a nice bit of exercise, I really like these built-in feedback loops in the human body.
At McCoy, we preach the practice of installing feedback loops in our projects and activities. Within the Supply Chain Management (SCM) team we have developed our own toolkit of analytical techniques that helps us to map our customer’s projects. The kit is loosely based on the Six Sigma approach that’s widely adopted in the supply chain community.
We translated and enhanced the five phases as originally identified by Motorola into McCoy’s Simplify approach supported by commonly available techniques that are used in business process consulting. Following the predefined steps of Identify (Define), Measure, Assess (Analyze), Design (Improve) and Execute (Control) we map company’s processes. We identify where value is added, what’s important to an organization and why. Each of this model’s steps results in feedback loops on business functions /organizational levels (e.g. manufacturing, warehousing, etc.) and guides the actions and learning of departments.
Feedback loops are essential in all business activities, whether it is during implementation of a project or in day-to-day operations.
When the analysis is made upfront and/ or during the startup of the project, it is used to identify areas where potential constraints may occur. Applying benchmarking and the cause & effect analysis techniques will help to identify and apply countermeasures before an issue occurs. A careful appliance of these techniques also greatly helps in identifying new/revised ideas and solution directions. By channeling ideas and by writing them down in concrete actions and decisions some of our customers have come to valuable insights and changed their strategy to be better fit for the future.
Applying these techniques during project execution is critical for a successful project delivery. Feedback loops during project execution means greater control on the outcome, and an increase of team productivity and benefits. These loops continuously re-evaluate the desired and expected outcome based on the latest information and developments (e.g. new disruptive innovations).
Next to that, this method can also be applied afterwards, to identify the root cause of an existing issue. A proper RCA (Root Cause Analysis) can be matched with the company’s strategy. It can be very useful to see how actions from the past have led to the current situations. And also if these actions fit the company’s future direction; sort of an ad-hoc feedback loop, used for retrospective analysis.
Are you interested in how these techniques can be applied within your company? Please reach out to us for an intake meeting.