Ron Wince, CEO of Guidon Performance Solutions, is taking the lessons learned in the manufacturing world—namely the concepts of Lean and Six Sigma—and is applying them to companies in the healthcare, retail, public sector and financial services spaces, among other service-type industries. “Service organizations have a hard time understanding how something that can work in a factory can apply to them,” he says, “but in many ways [service organizations are] really process factories.” Wince recently spoke with Consulting about how running companies “Lean”-er often means running them better.
Consulting: How do you determine where the excess and waste are in a company?
Wince: To be honest with you, I’m going to give you a little bit of consulting speak here, but the short answer is, “It depends.” Typically most of the clients know they have a particular need when they call us in the first place. A lot of times they’ll say, “I really need to free up some working capital from the inventory side or improve my productivity.”
Basically we already have some indicators of what their need is when we walk in. Because of the seasoning of our consultants—8 to 10 years of experience—a lot of times they’ve seen those types of opportunities before. So if in a retail environment you need to free up 500 million dollars in working capital over the next three years, we’ve done that kind of work. We can get a pretty good feel from listening to the client and looking at their operations and taking a look at some of their key performance indicators. Pretty quickly we can get an idea of what their need is and how to approach it and what kind of benefit they can expect.
No matter what industry we’re working in we can almost always find that about 5 percent or less of the time [employees are] doing any kind of work around what the customer actually cares about. Lean is built around how do you understand the value that the customer wants and how do you challenge everything that’s not focused on adding value. So we already know that we can challenge 95 percent of everything they do.