How do you drive significant business improvement when you have already optimised using traditional techniques?
Origins of Traditional Techniques
Let me set the scene and take you back to the year 1776 and a small Pin Factory in Scotland and a man you will most likely have heard of: Adam Smith. Adam Smith was a social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy and on the 9th of March, 1776 published the book that has formed how we do business to this day ‘The Wealth of Nations’roughly 4 months before Mozart’s first ever performance of the Haffner Symphony. Adam Smith had gone into this Scottish pin factory and noticed some extraordinary things, one being that the pin factory’s productivity was largely dependent on what employee was in work on any given day. Smith looked deeper into the workings of the pin factory and created what is described as the ‘division of labour’ (and later the subdivision of labour) where individual tasks were clearly defined and each person was assigned and trained up to effectively complete their task. This revolutionized manufacture and production, he increased productivity by 2400% and his book was mentioned in the declaration of independence.
Most of us in business now still follow what was published in ‘The Wealth of Nations’ in 1776. If you think about your organisational structure, what shape are you in? A pyramid, where the CEO is at the top and it rolls down to the guys at the front line, or in the trenches (It’s not a war by the way) This pyramid shape doesn’t physically exist it is an abstract illusion, it is however an abstract illusion that shapes and forms how we do work. Have you ever stopped to wonder where the customer is in your organisational structure? If the customer gets a mention at all they are usually shoved off to the sides and this again creates its own problems, ‘Hey! I’m in operations, look at the chart, the customer is 8 steps away from me in my value chain, I don’t deal with the customer’ The only reason that Mr Operations thinks that he doesn’t deal with the customer is because of the collective abstract illusion created by industrial age thinking being applied in today’s vastly different world. Earlier I mentioned that ‘The Wealth of Nations’ was published 4 months before Mozarts first performance of the Haffner Symphony, look at the comparison. We consider Mozart to be ‘classical’ music but do we consider the ideas born of a Scottish pin factory by Adam Smith in 1776 ‘classical’ thinking? No, not many of us do, and not many of us will for a long time. Put it this way some people didn’t accept that we lived in a Heliocentric universe (the sun being center of our solar system) until 1998.
Part 2 soon...