Book Review: Operational Excellence in Your Office: A Guide to Achieving Autonomous Value Stream Flow with Lean Techniques

In this book review, Chuck Miles, Director, Materials Management, Logistics and Inventory at Gogo, provides thoughts on Kevin Duggans latest book entitled Beyond the Lean Office.

Flow of information and communication in the office is the most overlooked and often most difficult area to understand and improve. The use of electronic communications and systems has tied the modern office into a maze of emails and electronic reminders. If the planning, work orders, purchase orders, invoices and shipping information don’t get processed efficiently, the greatest lean efforts in manufacturing will be doomed.

Lean is often thought of in a manufacturing environment as a way to improve the physical flow of materials and eliminate waste. 6 Sigma is viewed as a statistician’s best friend, generating reams of data and eventually "analysis paralysis." Office processes often operate at 2 Sigma while manufacturing processes operate at 4 Sigma. Operational Excellence is an aspirational goal without a clear definition.

Kevin Duggan has provided structure, definition and vision around Operational Excellence with his succinct definition. Operational Excellence is when "Each and every employee can see the flow of value to the customer, and fix that flow before it breaks down" SM. This employee-empowering definition lets the employee feel involved and engaged in the process – since they know it best.

All process books to this point expect a process to flow correctly after it is "fixed." When the process breaks down, management jumps in to save the day. Not in the world of Kevin Duggan, where the employees plan for process breakdowns and develop standard work for that abnormal flow. Management is then free to grow the business.

Kevin’s definition and approach to achieving Operational Excellence in the office is profound as it provides a true destination for office personnel (and managers!) improving the processes. It makes sense immediately. The five questions for flow in the office are empowering and drive office employees to create not just flow, but a self-healing, autonomous flow that does not require management intervention. Work every page of this book and watch your organization thrive and innovate in the office to achieve top-line business growth. This along with Kevin’s other books are the best series of improvement documents available.

Kevin Duggan is presenting a live webinar in partnership with PEX Network. Register your place to join this session on April 27 11:00 - 12:00 EST.