Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Who is the customer? - Confuse what is waste and then things unravel from there -

Some sectors have an issue with it not being entirely clear who their customers are and some have suggested reviewing the fundamental definition of waste as a consequence. This was my response on a lean in education forum recently:

"On the matter of redefining MUDA; this is a fundamental philosophy of lean, if we amend that then it is no longer lean. The whole thing will fall apart as people will then want to redefine everything else. I do think however that we can think more imaginatively around the definition of customer leaving the integrity of the core definition in place.

In education there is a customer or stakeholder web with several parties pulling value from the system, some in tension. We need therefore to create a value balanced scorecard that represents this extra layer of complexity. In process work you could traffic light the different types of value-add back to the relevant stakeholders.

This situation is not uncommon, I have had discussions with public sector clients where this very subject has come up; they have the public pulling value, but also have to provide a statutory requirement to the rule of law. In the private sector there are issues within value webs i.e. manufacturer – dealer - consumer, within shared services and outsourcing. This “who is the customer” is a common thread.

However a key point is that these issues must be thought through in advance of training or launching a lean initiative else of the first morning a staff member may well steal the thunder of your programme and potentially de-rail the whole initiative,"