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Sticklebrick Workshop – Miami EXPO, 2024

explic8 workshop opex Miami 2024

What was the purpose of the workshop?

The purpose of the workshop was to give the attendees an insight into what they might see in their own facilities if they had a chance to just stand back and watch what happens, day-in and day-out.

Often, people are so engrossed in their day-to-day activities that they miss the opportunities to improve, live with the weaknesses of existing processes, and live with the current status-quo because “it sort of works”…

What format did it take?

The OPEX activity was a cut-down version of our usual game:

  • 1 variant compared to 4 variants
  • 3 business periods instead of 4
  • Guided improvements on the timeouts instead of the team going through structured problem definition and solution selection

However, the principles were identical, and the core learning messages the same (more on that later).  We had 32 participants set up as two competing suppliers to the one customer.  Each team was given an identical debrief, SOPs, factory layout, team structure on commencement, training, and hands-on build-instructions.

Both teams were given the brief from the customer (delivery and quality expectations) and a core set of KPIs were explained to monitor team performance from a customer perspective.

Having given the briefing, and checked multiple times for agreement of readiness, the game began…

What was the atmosphere like?

The immediate impression was one of fun, joviality, and happy noises from both teams.

As the customer requested his second order, and informed both teams they were late on delivery fulfilment of the initial order, this noise started to change to anger, frustration, shouting between departments and blind panic!

During the timeouts between business periods, this returned to laughter, denial of poor performance, non-belief of the measures, and lots of finger-pointing!

How well did the teams generally do?

Unsurprisingly, both teams were disastrous on start-up.  The game is designed in batch production layout and is very typical of many businesses we encounter.  This mode of production is destined to fail or, at best, deliver very poor performance.

By the time we had progressed to the final round, both teams had re-configured to single piece flow layout, were delivering to a pull-system from the customer, had significantly reduced their overheads, and were working efficiently in a noise-free environment!

The team that had the most disastrous opening performance actually overtook the other team to secure a small success.

Takeaways for the participants

There were several key learning points for the attendees to take away:

  • Always take an opportunity to stand back and review how things are done currently
  • Whatever you have now can always be improved
  • What gets measured, gets done – provided the KPIs are meaningful, understood and owned
  • Have a structured, prioritised improvement plan and don’t be afraid of failure – sometimes these are as important as the successes!
  • Quality first – the customer is usually more tolerant of late, but never of poor quality

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Summary

Have fun at work!  The more you enjoy it, the greater the chances that you will discover better ways of working.

The game is a no-risk means of learning about the approach to OPEX and has all the main learning points that can be related to any business.  At the OPEX event, we had attendees from various industries including services and we had discussions on how the game can be modified for service environments.  It’s a means to an end, and that end should always be “To Be The Best that you can”.

If you would like us to run this workshop for your company, then send us a message here.