Saturday, June 07, 2003

Why Metrics? They Spread Joy, That’s Why.

I got a one-line email late Friday afternoon with a spreadsheet attached. It gave me great joy.

It was from our customer service rep at a major vendor. The email text simply said "Joe, here’s six weeks in a row of 100% on-time delivery." The attached spreadsheet had all the data.

I’d suggested several months ago we chart the amount of orders we received on the ship date requested in our weekly deliveries. A simple Pareto chart, it showed the proportion of deliveries on time and the reasons for late deliveries when they occurred. In the matter of a few weeks, a clear pattern emerged; a problem with on-time deliveries from one of their vendors. So, they put their efforts into that vendor, rather than merely expediting, more furiously, the orders through their shop.

This is why the short email brought such joy to our rep and to me. This simple pattern worked. And, now, six straight weeks of perfect order fulfillment.

Lean systems are built on simple metrics. A simple chart, with straightforward counts. No significant technology required. Careful thought and a commitment to take action on what it tells you is required however. And, when the results show, they are clear and unambiguous. And that brings joy.

I hope you can establish some clear simple metrics today. And I hope those metrics are helpful.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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