Get your bottlenecks flowing freely!
Do things sit in your inbox because you're too busy? Are colleagues often late sending things to you? Bottlenecks occur when input comes in faster than output can be created. On a manufacturing production line it's usually obvious where something is backing up, but in business processes it can be trickier to spot.
1. Use Flow Charts. One way to find a bottleneck is to break down and map out a process step by step. With a simple diagram to follow, it's easier to spot where things are going wrong.
2. The 5 Whys Technique. Once you've identified the problem, work backward asking "why?" at each step. This way, you will eventually find where the problem started and take steps to address it.
How to Unblock Bottlenecks
1. Increase efficiency. You can "widen" the bottleneck by applying resources and adding capacity to problem areas. Assigning productive team members and technology to the problem should get things flowing.
2. Decrease input. Or, go the other way and reduce the input to the bottleneck. Remove processes that could be done elsewhere. If there is more than can be handled, it might be best to slow the pace.
Backlogged work, long waits, and high stress levels are all good indicators that a bottleneck is occurring.
If you want to learn more about unblocking bottlenecks, see the article that accompanies this video.