Small, Simple Steps Can Lead to Big Outcomes

How to tackle your most challenging problems – one step at a time

As the saying goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

No matter how challenging, any initiative can be tackled bit by bit. Unfortunately, when we try to do too much at once, it can lead to confusion and chaos instead.

All too often, we see clients who are eager to adopt a new process or tackle a challenge in their business, stall out before they get started.

As you begin to think about all the different departments, people, and resources needed to pull off a big change, it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes frustration with the distance to the goal can discourage us from getting started.

Breaking down a big problem piece-by-piece is the most efficient way to tackle those big challenges. How we set goals plays a big part in whether we achieve them. Small, simple steps make it easier for your team to confidently deal with change and solve problems.

But just because you’re working on the project incrementally, doesn’t mean you won’t see results until the end.

 One step at a time can quickly lead to big wins

Even if you don’t have a single process documented in writing, you can still get your team trained and operating more efficiently. You just want to work it out in a contained space first.

One of our clients is a durable goods manufacturer with a common process that requires planned downtime 20-30 times per day at each of their facilities.

The continuous improvement team knew the process could be done more efficiently. Rather than try to change the process in every plant, or even on every line, they picked one to get started.

They found every team member working the line had a different way of performing the procedure and none of them were documented. On average, the downtime for the process was 15 minutes.

After determining the most efficient way to perform the process, they retrained the team on the job. They provided Acadia to the employees so they could follow the new process step-by-step and the CI team could track compliance.

After two weeks of training and using the new method, the team improved average downtime by 8 minutes. The change on that line alone saved the company $500,000. With that kind of success, and a clear approach to solving the problem, the CI team could more easily take the change out to other lines and facilities.

Start where you have the most pain

When you’re thinking about making big changes in your organization, it can be challenging to decide where to begin. We’ve found the best place to start is where you feel the most pain. What’s costing you the most? What will do the most long-term damage if it’s not addressed?

For one of our clients, turnover among a key group of highly skilled employees was slowing production and creating risk for order fulfillment.

The company manufactures batteries and the engineers capable of performing maintenance in their environment are difficult to find. To recruit them, the company put incentives in place to increase pay based on advancement in capability.

The challenge was they didn’t have a good way of tracking skills development. So, when employees felt they hadn’t received a deserved promotion, they frequently chose to leave.

With Acadia, the team could provide visibility – for both managers and employees – into the skills required and the progress individuals made to attain them. They started this program just among maintenance engineers and only in four plants. After six months, they had promoted 125 employees!

Now, the company has rolled the program out to 13 additional plants and is expanding it to other roles.

Incremental wins can eventually take you across the globe

For those who can see the big picture, but take small steps to get there, the rewards can take them places they wouldn’t have thought possible.

A training manager that worked for one of our first clients had just volunteered to lead a training program for new leaders with limited industry experience. The program was designed to expose new leaders to different aspects of production. After learning more, they could select the roles they wanted to pursue.

Training a large group of people on a wide range of topics in a short amount of time was a big task. The training manager used Acadia to provide resources to the trainees while they were doing their work, as well as to check their comprehension.

In the end, the program was a success. The new employees spread out across the company and many went on to lead transformative projects of their own.

The training manager was given the opportunity to bring Acadia into a facility to replace their paper-based system. That eventually turned into several other plants, then the region, and eventually the enterprise, with the training manager becoming the global product leader.

What’s your elephant?

We’ve learned a lot working with our clients to solve a wide variety of problems. The big takeaway is it’s easy to stall out before you start if you try to tackle too much at once. Instead, start with what’s most important and will deliver the biggest benefit. Then, break it into small segments that you can reasonably tackle.

Before you know it, your team will look back and the elephant will be gone.

If you have a project you’ve been struggling to get off the ground, reach out. We’d love to talk it through with you.

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