Part I: The Productivity Edge – It’s the Little Things That Count
Faith Technologies’ productivity program hasn’t been an overnight success. Eight years ago, our initial time studies showed that our crews spent, on average, 39% of their time performing value-added primary time (work the customer pays us to complete), whereas today they spend, on average, a remarkable 63%. But we didn’t leap from 39% to 63% in a short timeframe, as the results have come slowly, but steadily over the past eight years. So many often wonder – how have our workers achieved this significant accomplishment?
Early on, Faith Technologies identified key critical techniques, which eventually become habits, and are now ingrained in our culture. If practiced relentlessly every day on the job, these techniques/activities result in reduced waste and non-value adding activities, while permitting our workers to spend more of their time on the tasks our customers are paying us to do.
Techniques outlined in the book “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson are the ingredients in our approach to productivity. While doing little things consistently day-in and day-out doesn’t result in instantaneous success; what it does do is form the basis for turning simple disciplines into major successes.
There is nothing complicated about our productivity program. Instead of looking for the fastest workers, we simply work to focus on the techniques that ensure we can accomplish the most work in the least amount of time, while relentlessly and consistently teaching and practicing the simple elements every day.
In addition to job site productivity, we have also identified productivity expectations that impact every support function at Faith Technologies. The same principles apply. For we know if these key expectations are done well, we will be successful most of the time. What we found, is when new workers are placed in this same system, they tend to produce similar results. The primary influence is the environment we create – you cannot force commitment, but you can develop commitment.
To gain a sense of the simple things you can do to be successful, think back to when you first started your job or your career. You paid attention to doing the small things on a daily basis that generated your success… for a period of time. Once you were comfortable, it’s likely you slowly dropped many of the key ingredients that brought you success. For an electrician, it might be as simple as wearing a tool belt. When new to the trade, most will wear a tool belt, but as they become more experienced, many stop wearing it and begin sticking a few tools in their pockets, or leaving their tools on a cart distant from their task area.
This small change can increase non-value added handling time as much as 5%. When you can’t see the future results in a short timeframe, you stop doing the things that will help you reach that goal over an extended period of time. Furthermore, consistently doing the small things become habits that guarantee your success over time.
Stay tuned for Part II of my Productivity Edge series, where I will outline the simple ingredients that fuel productivity and contribute to our continued success.