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Routine Standardization (Part 9)

As we begin our ninth article in this series and zero in on the final summation in the coming month, my intention remains to fully define RS. Furthermore, to encourage you to develop and utilize it as you explore new methods and meanwhile keep a wary eye out for the same type of accidental discoveries I’ve mentioned throughout the course of this series. They are hidden in plain sight within our day-to-day activities. They await our discovery as we strive to improve and develop the very best methods. We will inevitably encounter them if we will only open our eyes and look.


I concluded last month by mentioning one final example of an accidental discovery: SuperGlue. As I continue, I’d also like to emphasize the ongoing discovery of its multiple uses. Uses such as criminal investigation in the lifting of fingerprints. Diverse uses, in different industries, such as the medical field where it is used to stop bleeding, closing wounds or surgical incisions with minimal scarring, all of which stem from and are rooted in its original accidental discovery.


Consider the untold and vast benefits that awaited those who discovered it as they simply pursued R&D seeking something else, never knowing what they would find nor its untapped potential. The financial windfall of those who stumbled on it is unimaginable. Again, another accidental discovery, which underscores the possibilities we all have as we search for improvements in our day-to-day operations. Who knows what we may stumble upon if we are earnest in our pursuit of continual improvement?


And so it was with one such drywall company and the continual evolution of a simple form, the Completion Date Worksheet. When the CDW was first developed, there were two CDWs: one for installation of drywall and another for the tasks involved in finishing and completion. No sooner had that process and the use of the forms been fully implemented, it became evident that there were many benefits that the business could take advantage of. It put everyone involved on notice. Each department knew what was needed by when. Shortly thereafter, it also occurred to management that the two forms could be consolidated in to one CDW. Why not? You could cut the process nearly in half, do it in one interaction with less effort and more inefficiency. Imagine that!


One department, the first department on site, could be taught to schedule on behalf of the whole organization. It was a stretch, but doable. However, it required an agreement companywide. Each department had to determine how long the various tasks involved should take. Then the first manager on site had to be taught to present it and come to an agreement with the customer, get the signature and promptly forward it to the office. It could not be approached casually. It needed to happen when it needed to happen. To fully utilize its benefit, it had to happen day one. It quickly became essential to the company’s entire operation. It pulled the trigger and signaled every department as to who will do what by when. That is the all-important question that businesses everywhere are begging to be answered, and this form told those involved exactly that.


Before long the form became such a natural part of the process that at times a customer’s first request was for a CDW. At times, you could almost sense a bit of irritability on the customer’s part if it wasn’t promptly provided. What was once resisted was now embraced by all. Upper management who were involved in its implementation were delighted to see something once so foreign and awkward had become an expected and almost demanded norm, both internally by departments and externally by customers.


The discovery of the CDW and its multiple uses as a communication tool were riddled with one accidental discovery after another. It eliminated the typical information chase as well as an untold number of phone calls and other types of communication. It simplified what was once complex. The necessary information was consolidated on a single page. It addressed all of the fundamental questions, providing answers to questions before they were inevitably asked.


However, the quest remains to build on what we has been accomplished. What we have must be maintained, particularly as new management is hired or developed. But we can never be content to merely maintain the status quo. We can always find better ways. New routines can be standardized and thereby improve our operations. There are always new and better ways to do old things. Yesterday’s methods will never completely fulfill tomorrow’s needs. Though there are many methods that remain critical as we press forward. We must not merely maintain them, they must evolve in the name of progress, or our companies will be overcome by more suitable competitors.

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. He is known for his original thought, innovative approach and the personal development of unique processes, systems and procedures. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at [email protected].

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