We’ve just started our Operations Management course in the MBA - and it’s my favourite course so far. Not only is the course lecturer, Feryal Erhun, a brilliant teacher but I can immediately see how I can put the lessons learned into practice. What I’ve got from the course to date is that Operations Management is all about improving processes and making them more efficient.
Feryal started our first lecture by showing us this 55 second video of a Ferrari F1 Pit Stop. The whole process is a total of 4 seconds - which is hugely impressive. One of the key things that stood out for me was the large amount of time that the pit stop staff are waiting for the car. The lesson here is that the car is the bottleneck and being the bottleneck - everything is centred around keeping the bottleneck moving as fast as possible. Think about the immense cost of losing seconds off a lap. It makes sense, therefore, to put money into additional staff to make the pit stop process faster - even though they may be idle for long periods of time.
Bottlenecks was also one of the key topics of the book The Goal that is recommended reading for this course. Bottlenecks are often completely overlooked by people but when we look for them and do something about them - then processes can be completely transformed.
So what is a bottleneck? It is one process in a chain of processes that has a limited capacity and therefore influences the capacity of the whole chain. In the Ferrari F1 Pit Stop - the car was the bottleneck. There’s only one car and so doing everything to improve the speed of the car and minimising its downtime is of paramount importance. An example of a short-term bottleneck is a skilled employee taking a few days off. Short-term bottlenecks are normally not a problem but long-term ones are. An example of a long-term bottleneck is a lack of staff or equipment for a specific process such as one dishwasher for a large office. The solutions here are to increase staff for that specific process and buy a second dishwasher.
So our challenge for you is to look for bottlenecks in your work. And when you find them - how can you increase its capacity? And, therefore, improve the whole process?
We Are All Wonder Women Co-founder Eugenie is currently studying for an Executive MBA at the University of Cambridge. This is one is a series of blogs she is writing giving insight into some of her learning from the course which she hopes will help other Wonder Women at work.
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