I wrote last week about the 3 root causes of pretty much all problems; lack of a standard, a standard that exists but is not followed and a standard that exists & is followed, but is insufficient in detail to ensure a consistent output. Process confirmation is a method of dealing with and/or ensuring the second 2 are not present in your work environment.
In some ways it is checking up on people, making sure they do as they are supposed to do, the way they are supposed to do things. This is the side that people don’t like, the aspect that makes many feel uncomfortable. However, I have seen numerous times where had Process Confirmation been in place & conducted properly, the problems that we found, would not have existed. Process standards existed, but people, for various reasons, were not following them.
People face problems that make it difficult and sometimes impossible to follow the standard. What are their options? Raise the alarm? Call for help? Find a work around? Quite often this last option is the one chosen. Process Confirmation finds these work arounds & provides the opportunity to educate the front line staff as to why the standard exists, why it is important to follow it and in some cases to identify better ways to do things.
Sure, it would be great if these work arounds never happened, if the need to find them didn’t exist. That is not usually the case. Process Confirmation is a simple way of ensuring our processes are robust and providing the consistent output expected. It also provides, as previously alluded to, the opportunity to identify improvement potential. People who carry out a process day in, day out become used to it, they will naturally evolve better ways to do certain aspects of the process. By confirming the process regularly (frequency varies depending on the task) we can identify these changes, update the standard or correct the deviations back to standard where necessary.
It may feel uncomfortable, possibly because you are doing it wrong. It is part of leadership in a lean culture. When done correctly, it can prevent numerous problems from occurring in the first place.