I am a big fan of simplicity and focusing on the vital few versus the trivial many. One thing I am noticing as I work through supply chain problems is that though this is a good approach as a first pass, I am finding that the next step can be a lens change to small details. This is what I mean by the dumbbell approach. On one side is the vital few issues to be address and the other end are the behaviors that get the rest of the way to your goal. This can be broken down into three steps:

Step 1: Find all the pain points and force rank them from largest impact to smallest.

Step 2: Take the largest three to five items and focus the whole team on these items. This is what I consider the vital few. Sometimes you may not be able to actually focus on the top three due to resources and limited time and dollars. If so, focus on the vital one.

Step 3: Once the vital few are completed, instead of going down the Pareto, reorder the pain points. This will help you accomplish a couple of items. First, you can use this updated data set to see if you truly “fixed” the problem because it shouldn’t show up.Secondly, the order of the 5 to 10 other items usually doesn’t shift, it fundamentally changes and new items may crop up. From this new list, instead of picking the next 3 or 4 items, pick one item that seems odd to the team? This one can be the item that gets you from 80% to 95%. This is because when you get to this level of detail, you are working on the vital behaviors instead of the vital few.

The vital behaviors are the items that are generally missed at a high level but are critical to not only lock in the gains but get you the rest of the needs. Vital behaviors once addressed, improve CIL and centerline compliance. They are the reasons that recycling programs sometimes fail because it is easier to throw items in the trash instead of putting where it is supposed to go. This can also be an approach when deploying resources at a site or process. Part to the vital few, and two or three to the small projects.

The vital few and the vital behaviors work together to solve some of the hardest issues that a supply chain / process / business face. It just takes a dumbbell.

 

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