As many of you, when I pass by an Apple store I feel attracted by a magical thing that surrounds these. The products, the architecture, the service, the atmosphere; I don't really know what it is but there "is something" that invites me to go in. The answer to the Apple’s mythical mystery was provided to me by an article that I recently read in TIME.com wrote by Tim Bajarin, “6 Reasons Apple Is So Successful”. This article lists 6 factors (out of many, I presume) explaining Apple’s success.
1) For any product that Apple creates, the people who create it have to want it themselves
2) The products have to be easy to use
3) Keep things simple
4) Offer great customer service and in-store experiences
5) Apple only makes a product if Apple can do it better
6) Apple stays at least two years ahead of its competitors
...... All, when combined, lead to one word: QUALITY…. Quality products, Quality service, Quality environment, etc, etc….
The main objective for LEAN ENTERPRISE techniques application is to nurture processes so these add pure value in order to have highly satisfied customers. Remember that the very basic concept of a satisfied customer is that one that gets what he/she wants, at the right quantity and quality, at a certain moment in time and paying the fair price for the desired/requested product or service. Here is where the BIG question comes into play: What do we need to accomplish in order to have satisfied customers? What, When, How much, ..., etc.?.
Once I developed a total reengineering project for a department in a bank. It was a total chaos. It is incredible what it can be done in the service industry when the 6 Apple reasons and Lean Enterprise techniques are combined in order to have total satisfied customers.
1) As the attendant, ask yourself: Would you see yourself in the customer’s place? What would you feel if you were there?. Eliminate all the activities that you won’t value as a costumer.
2) Are the steps in the service easy to follow? again, place yourself in the customer’s situation.
3) Use the KISS rule (Keep It Simple and Smart)
4) What would you do (considered as extraordinary) in order to exceed your customer’s satisfaction?
5) Your company can do better continuously; don’t let the competition do better than your company.
6) To stay ahead of the competitors, push yourself harder and harder to do better continuously.
REMEMBER: ADD VALUE TO THE CUSTOMER FOR A TOTAL SATISFACTION EXPERIENCE
At the end it doesn’t matter the industry: Manufacturing, Service, Health, etc; what once was called Lean Manufacturing left behind the continuous improvement cycle which grew and evolved into Lean Enterprise creating a positive impact on all other areas among the business.
The first thing that you need to ask yourself as a manager and/or business owner is:
Are there improvement opportunities in my business?. Think about species evolution, they have been improving since the beginning of time, so evolution or improvement is an species' intrinsic characteristic.
Lean enterprise, simply “Lean” is a practice that considers expenditure of resources only for the creation or addition of value. The resources uncontrolled usage leads to high operational costs which directly
reduces the profit margin simply because the sale price will be established by
the market. Assuming a fixed final sale price, the leaner the process,
the more profitable it will be.
It doesn't matter the business nature, there always will be 4 main variables related to the process, these are: man, machine, method, and materials; also know as the 4M's.
Lean Enterprise techniques will help managing these 4 main variables in order to have a leaner process leading to a more profitable business.