Following on from our series of blogs on operations management, I’ve been diving deeper into the topic and specifically how I can apply it to my own work. This deeper dive has brought me to a book called The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
‘Which of our efforts are value-creating and which are wasteful?’ is the question at the heart of lean manufacturing. It is the first question any lean manufacturing trainee is taught to ask. Lean principles are derived from the Japanese manufacturing industry and are most famously promoted through Toyota. There principles are called The Toyota Way and The Toyota Production System. Key to these are the reduction of three types of waste: muda (虚無僧, non-value-adding work), muri (無理, overburden), and mura (斑, unevenness).
Operations Management is all about understanding and improving processes. While it’s mostly associated with manufacturing, it is a discipline that is applicable to and useful for almost any process - including making toast!
“Women are great at multi-tasking” - I’m sure you’ve heard that a thousand times. I’ve said that myself on many occasions. The ability to multi-task is assumed to be a positive trait, a more productive way of working. As women we often balance family and career, the office and the household, and it seems like we have multiple plates spinning at any one time. But keeping these plates spinning is not easy, and can lead us to become stressed and tired. Here’s my thoughts on why we should ditch the multi-tasking model, and embrace single-tasking as the new way forward in being more productive both at work and at home.
I work in nature conservation and in our sector we are always looking for the next big solution to our big problem of biodiversity loss. But I sometimes wonder if we should focus on the small solutions. The small changes that, if scaled up, could have huge impact. Even if it’s just making small, but important, changes in our own organisations to improve our efficiency and increase our impact.
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.
A classmate was looking particularly stunning last week on the MBA programme. She was wearing a beautiful dress - businessy but stylish. I commented on how well she looked and she replied by telling me that she had given herself a promotion. She runs her own small company and gives herself a promotion every couple of years to keep herself motivated. She said that with her latest promotion she decided she would dress differently - to make her really believe this new promotion.
I have started playing a game every time I go to a presentation or lecture, read a report, or am the recipient of marketing. The game is to spot the white man. And, if I have the inclination, count the number of times a white man appears versus a non-white person.
Just the words ‘corporate finance’ rings of something boring and businessy! Yet the MBA course on this has been surprisingly interesting. Fascinating, even. One big learning point for me has been the inaccuracy of the financial metrics that are used within the finance sector. Yet this doesn’t stop professionals from using them. They are aware of the caveats and assumptions in their metrics and they then work with that.
I’m currently taking an Operations Management module on the University of Cambridge Executive MBA course and our list of recommended readings includes a book call The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. It’s described as a “business novel that introduced the theory of constraints and changed how America does business”.
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.