Tag Archives: business

Venetian Warships, Faster Horses and Legal Firms.

When a US law firm wanted to find a way of becoming more efficient and deliver legal matters more effectively they turned to a set of techniques that have their roots back when the Venetians built ships at the Arsenale, techniques continued by Henry Ford, once he’d noticed his clients wanted faster horses.

Today that law firm is lauded as being “5 years ahead of every other AmLaw 200  firm” and now claims to deliver legal matters some 15 -50% faster than before. Not surprisingly this has driven down costs, driven up satisfaction and helped to secure new customers.

On the 6th April 2011 Mark Greenhouse of ResQ will be presenting to the Yorkshire Law Society on the techniques that can be used to improve the speed of delivery whilst reducing costs and how this will affect firm profitability and pave the way for true Fixed and Alternative billing to take place.

For details visit Yorkshire Law Society Continuous Improvement in Law.

If you’re not in Yorkshire and would like to find out more then drop us your contact details on info@resqmr.co.uk  and we’ll get back to you.

Thanks,  Mark

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Lean Management & Continuous Improvement – Is your Law Firm ahead of this Organisation?

** You can get a FREE copy of our latest 2013 Lean Management for Law Firms  handbook by clicking on download** The original article continues below

Click here to download FREE Lean Legal pdf guide

The Association of Corporate Counsel has noted that the company in the article below is “five years ahead of every other AmLaw 200 firm” because of its Lean & Continuous Improvement programmme. The programme based on management principles already proven in many other sectors and departments to deliver;

  • lower costs, (increases margin)
  • faster responses, (improves cashflow)
  • better quality,
  • and improved customer satisfaction.

Get the article here; Continuous Improvement in Law Firms – LeanThinking in Legal Services (the article was first published in September 2010 in the Law Business Review).

Alternatively visit our new website at levantar.co.uk.

If they are five years ahead of US firms, what about the UK, do we have any organisations looking at this, who could claim to be five years into a lean thinking implementation within the legal sector?

We are presenting to the Yorkshire Law Society, on this subject in April this year.

Do you think that Lean Management programs will work in the UK legal sector be it, law firms or general counsel?

About the Author;

Mark Greenhouse has been working on the application of Lean management in Legal and design led Manufacturing companies for the past 5 years. His own Lean journey started back in 1988 when he started study of Production Engineering. He’s applied lean in many organisation types, finance, call centres, banking, FMCG etc. Mark also provides lectures on operational management at Leeds University Business School.

Free Lean Management Training Course

From time to time, we offer free training via other organisations.  One such organisation we work with is Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

On the 25th March 2011, in Leeds, we’re offering a free 2 hour insight into Lean Management techniques. This is about how Lean can be applied across all departments in any organisation, so it isn’t limited to just manufacturing or profit facing bsuinesses.

So

  • if you work in IT, Finance, NHS, Public Sector, Service, Marketing or Manufacturing companies or
  • if your career means you are responsible for continuous improvement, process improvement, or training or
  • if you are faced with getting more out with the same or fewer resources

then this course will give you something to take away to use in improvement.

You can find all the details here LEAN MANAGEMENT TRAINING  COURSE

This session will show you how you can improve your business efficiency, by using tools and techniques developed in manufacturing and now proven within organisations, ranging from Tesco, Toyota, Zara, GE, NHS, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Seyfarth Shaw (Law firm) through to Starbucks.

Lean manufacturing businesses found that more than 70% of their improvement projects lay not on the shop floor but in the offices and service based departments and so it has spread to these sectors. It will help to improve your business speed, capacity, cost control and quality whatever your sector or department.

If you’ve got any questions on this training then drop us a line.

Thanks

ResQ

Where is the Value?

In recent months I’ve met several managers, running departments (operations, marketing, HR, IT), all working for different companies (Sectors include: retail, banking, manufacturing, IT) who at some point have all said a very similar thing;

“one of my problems is, my department isn’t seen as adding value, we’re seen as a cost centre”

So my questions are

  • where is the value created in organisations these days?
  • does it matter that the departments believe they are seen as cost centres?
  • If you subsitute the word profit for value does this help?
  • Should it matter that we understand where value is created? is knowing costs enough?

Any views or examples (positive or negative) on this greatly appreciated in the comments below.

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Sir Terry Leahy’s Lean Commandments?

I came across these Ten Commandments for Good Management from a presentation given by Sir Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco PLC, Fresh & Easy in the States, only one of them is called Lean Thinking but I think that I can easily make a case for six of them relating to a true lean journey. You might even be able to make a case for another two of his Ten Commandments to be part of the same journey.

For info Tesco started on a lean journey in about 1994, when a clear second in the UK Supermarket league, fifteen years later and they are almost twice the size of their nearest UK competitors and are making a go of it internationally.

Here are, a shortened version of the Commandments: (link to full article below)

Commandment Number 1: Find the truth – LEAN; Gemba

Commandment Number 2: Set audacious goals.

Commandment Number 3: Vision, values and culture are critical.

Commandment Number 4: Follow the customer – LEAN; only customers can truly value your products or services.

Commandment Number 5: Create a steering wheel – LEAN; Visual Management Systems

Commandment Number 6: People, process and systems – LEAN; Value Stream Mapping, waste reduction, & create flow 

Commandment Number 7: Lean thinking.  LEAN; I’ve left the full quote in here, ” Most think that lean thinking comes out of Just-In-Time manufacturing in Japan, but it can apply to anything from retail through banking. We apply lean thinking to the complete supply chain, and that is why we are more productive than most.”

Commandment Number 8: Competition is good (LEAN??; read Taichii Ohno’s book the Toyota Production System and you’ll find that they set out to learn and beat the US producers.)

Commandment Number 9: Simple beats complex – LEAN; Value Stream Mapping, Removing the 7 hidden wastes.

Commandment Number 10: Leadership (LEAN??; as he is quoted “So big organisations in order to be effective needs thousands of leaders, not just one”) 

If you want to read the full article, with all the details of the commandments then it can be found on the following website  Sir Terry Leahy’s Ten Commandments.

What do you think are 6 or 8 of the commandments based on Lean, can a case be made for all 10? or is that just trying to fit the data to support the model?

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Lean: Crossing the Atlantic with your Coffee?

Read the stories in the UK today about the latest Starbucks results and you’d be forgiven for having no idea that they are running a Lean Thinking improvement programme.

Starbucks managed to TRIPLE their profits, whilst increasing dramatically their Customer Satisfaction, so not a bad result by any measure, I’m sure you’ll agree.

The BBC claimed ” The firm has cut thousands of jobs and shut hundreds of under-performing stores over the past two years to trim costs”,  whilst The Guardian reported “When he [Howard Schultz] retook control, he checked the company’s breakneck expansion, took out almost $600m in costs, closed nearly 1,000 stores, mainly in the US, and shut up shop for a day to retrain its legions of workers.”.

I would say blink and you’d miss any reference to Lean, only there aren’t any, not in anything I’ve read, heard or seen today.

Type “Starbucks Lean” into Google news and you get exactly 1 Hit (22.30 GMT 21/01/10), maybe this blog will make it two?

We looked for references to lean as we wrote this post Barista to Fashionista  back in May, when we learnt of Starbucks foray in to Lean Thinking, and we were intrigued to find out what effect it had on their results.

Go to the Starbucks Earning Call and the fuller story comes out.

Troy Alstead, CFO, claimed that “US store operating expenses were 36.6% of total revenues, a 350 basis point improvement over last year primarily driven by the continued application of lean principles in our store operating model plus the effect of company operated store closures.” So admittedly not Lean on its own but the improvement is hardly just due to cost cutting and store closures. Note it was the CFO talking about it too, how refreshing is that?

Howard Schultz, Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Officer and Founder, commenting on what Starbucks will do in their international markets ” Now that the US business has come back the way it is and we feel it is healthy and on solid ground we’re doing two things, one is we’re doing a comprehensive audit of all the things that we did in the US business that worked, that got our customers back, that put lean in our store and things that not only were consumer facing but also behind the customer as well…..a store, is a store, is a store and we believe that we can provide many of the opportunities throughout international that we brought to the US business.” So Starbucks are convinced that lean is part of their future in the US and Internationally.

Howard Schultz also commented on the vast improvement in Customer Satisfaction “I will point out here that we improved labor management and labor costs in our stores over the past year at the same time we have seen a dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction scores.” Now I can’t be certain but I’m not sure that closing stores improves Customer Satisfaction scores or that traditional cost cutting programmes often lead to improved Customer Satisfaction and as Lean is the improvement project Starbucks refer to then I’d chance a guess that it was Lean that drove up the Customer Satisfaction. Our experience at ResQ tells us that this often happens, along with all the other benefits. (faster customer service, order delivery, higher levels of output, improved quality, increasing employee engagement etc)

So if you’re a Starbucks employee or customer outside the US then it looks like Lean is coming to a store near you and you’ve nothing to be afraid of and if you’re a competitor, how could you TRIPLE your profits and improve customer satisfaction…………?

If you have any comments or questions on the blog above then please fill in the box or drop me a line

mark.greenhouse@resqmr.co.uk or check our website www.resqmr.co.uk

regards,

Mark

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Could ZARA be the new LEAN fashion leader?

Well it’s been around for nearly 30 years in various formats in the West, so to call it new is stretching it a bit. However Spanish based global clothing retailer Zara has QUADRUPLED turnover and profit on the back of it since 2000 and this example demonstrates how lean can lead to organisations being able to charge more for their output.  

Beware though this strategy has taken 30 years in the year making!