All organizations in every industry have processes that are designed to add value. However, the amount of non-value adding activity found in these processes is systematically overlooked when viewed through the eyes of the producer. When viewed through the eyes of the customer, it is shocking to realize that the vast majority of daily activity does not truly add value from a critical perspective. This is bad news on the short-term view but is a treasure trove of opportunity when viewed from a continuous improvement perspective.
RCF Associates has helped organizations in innumerable production and support groups within a multitude of industries learn how to recognize then maximize their value proposition while eliminating the non-value adding activities. All of these environments have unique differences that make their applications challenging; RCF Associates expertise helps them recognize how their processes lend themselves to good continuous improvement practices. Good continuous improvement practices build good business cultures and lead to significant productivity improvements.
Who have we helped?
Industrial organizations tend to be very aware of their processes but have ample opportunities to better coordinate their value streams across horizontal flow of value rather than vertical silos of departmental thinking. RCF Associates has helped organizations within industrial settings such as construction, aerospace shipbuilding, discrete and process manufacturing.
Construction -- be it, commercial, residential, factory or even shipbuilding -- is an area that traditionally is quick to throw up the "we're different" roadblock. However, the multitude of organizations that RCF Associates has worked with have all found that the continuous improvement techniques we use are very practical and successful.
Service Organizations - both independent and internal
Service organizations can be either an entire business to themselves such as engineering companies, legal partnerships, and information technology firms or they can be a service area within a larger organization such as Sourcing, Human Resources, Design, Engineering or Facilities Services. The operational hurdles they face -- while unique in their own right -- are very similar from a continuous improvement environment.
RCF Associates has helped service organizations recognize the value they add in terms of the 'products' they deliver. Starting from this perspective, these groups have been able to visualize their processes in a manner that allows them to focus on the value their customers desire while eliminating the inherent wastes in their historically hidden processes.
Healthcare is quickly embracing continuous improvement as a vital tool for changing the way it serves its patients. RCF Associates has been instrumental with helping associated institutions embrace process change and ensure their ability to grow with its patients' needs.
RCF Associates has worked within most areas of healthcare -- be it clinical or support. We have helped organizations recognize the ineffectiveness of silo based fiefdoms that serve the organization but not the customers. Through a Value Stream focus, we have turned handcuffed departments into smoothly running, value maximizing, and customer pleasing workgroups. This in turn has dramatically improved employee satisfaction and engagement. These value streams have ranged from clinical divisions / departments to support operations such as finance, billing, human resources and information technology.
Academic Institutions are unique and fall somewhere between Service and Healthcare Organizations given culture, mission, structure and current market challenges.
Colleges and Universities are facing a multitude of challenges concerning the increasing costs and the overall value proposition for their services. RCF Associates has helped some of the most reputable institutions in America overcome the obstacles of the staid environments and prove to themselves that there are, indeed, ample opportunities for continuous improvement within their environments.
How have we helped?
Most of our productivity focused clients come to us because they have realized there must be a better way to conduct their business. The transformational process is hard work. The focus is on people and process while referring to Lean concepts and tools.
A client of ours developed and publicized their vision for reaching their goals with simple arithmetic.
Two different organizations were working on changing the culture of the organization using totally separate 'initiatives'. Human Resources set out to measure and improve employee engagement. Operations became focused on Lean Continuous Improvement techniques and concepts. RCF Associates brought the two efforts together by pointing out that you cannot succeed at one without the others.
An organization can have short term performance improvement by investing money, time, and effort into engagement or some form of continuous improvement. However, there will be no long term improvement success without both grass roots engagement and a mechanism in which an engaged workforce can effectively change their processes and environment. An engaged employee with no opportunity to change and improve their work environment will find another area of their life to be more engaged. An improvement effort with unengaged employees will have no chance at long term success. One form of euphoria will die without equal positive support from the other.
RCF Associates has worked hand-in-hand with organizations that are already working to ensure that more of their employees are constructively engaged in their workplace. We have helped other organizations learn the importance and power of incorporating engagement efforts into their strategies, tactics, and cultures. We have found that the Hoshin Kanri / Strategy Deployment concepts found in Lean provide an easy way to incorporate engagement within their managerial systems.
Lean Continuous Improvement includes concepts, techniques, and tools that have been developed over the years to help practitioners focus on Value and eliminate wastes. Some of the concepts are counter intuitive; some of the techniques are frequently misapplied; and all of the tools are not always needed. However, when explained well and applied correctly they are very useful and deliver great results. Once a group gets used to them, they are often referred to as common sense. But to loosely quote Mark Twain, "Common sense ain't common until someone points it out."
RCF Associates teaches its clients how to understand the concept, choose the right tools for the right application, and understand the correct techniques for applying them. We teach our clients on a real time basis to enable immediate use of the concepts and thorough understanding. We stress the underlying value of the concepts in a way that allows them to recognize that sometimes the goal of a concept such as One Piece Flow is to encourage continuous improvement while the Value Stream may never be able to achieve the target.
RCF Associates feels strongly that Lean Continuous Improvement is much more than the implementation of these tools or concepts. It is foremost about respecting and developing people. Our most successful clients respect the abilities of its employees and dedicate themselves to developing associates to be the leaders of continuous improvement regardless of organizational titles. RCF Associates helps leadership understand the importance of focusing on developing people rather than implementing tools and concepts or driving for cost reductions.
RCF Associates use coaching techniques to help the clients learn by doing. Our job is not to tell the person what to do, but to help them uncover the value of the continuous improvement process. When problem solving, we encourage them to dig deeply to truly define the problems; uncover the true root causes; and learn how to use experimentation -- rather than action items -- to find solutions. Our goal in coaching is to help our clients learn a new way of thinking rather than finding a particular solution for a particular problem.
We encourage the participant to think, ask probing questions, stretch goals, and even allow them to make mistakes. By doing so, we help them grasp concepts, learn to fail quickly, and learn to quickly succeed. In the end, we help them learn to coach so that they will expand the knowledge and develop the people of the organization.
The combination of Engaging, Teaching, Coaching, and Developing, helps them master the concepts, enjoy the fruits of their labor, while they become coaches and Lean leaders themselves.
Continuous Improvement Strategies
RCF Associates has helped organizations implement in-depth, and successful continuous improvement strategies that change the culture of organizations and deliver the results necessary to be deemed long term winners. Each case incorporates the unique aspects of the company’s culture, contain the details necessary to fit the organization, and enable buy-in at all levels
Value Stream Deployment
Value Stream Mapping has been successfully used in Lean circles for many years. It has helped organizations ‘see’ the flow of information and material at the Business Unit and Product level value stream. From this, they have been able to put together logical and well-linked plans for continuous improvement actions. RCF Associates use this level of Value Stream Analysis to focus the business leaders and associates on the horizontal processes that deliver value to their customers. Not only does this help them recognize and understand the issues that prevent optimal flow, it also builds ownership in their whole value stream. By enjoying that innate feeling of pride one feels when satisfying customers, the leaders begin to feel like business unit owners and intrapreneurs within their organization. The associates begin to feel ownership and empowerment for solving problems that have plagued them for years. As a result, the Value Stream starts improving and humming like never before!
Enterprise-wide Value Stream Analysis
RCF Associates has developed a highly successful, unique-in-the-industry approach of using Value Stream Analysis to help clients analyze their Enterprise-wide Value Stream. With this approach, Senior Leadership can benefit from the same discoveries that have, to date, been hidden or hard to see. We have helped many organizations recognize the common issues that affect each other even when they historically considered their programs as unique and disassociated from each other. This analysis has enabled organizations to see their horizontal value proposition across silos or programs, while allowing joint investments in large issues that alone seemed insurmountable.
Strategy Deployment / Hoshin Kanri
RCF Associates has vast experience in helping companies understand and implement the straight-forward approach of Hoshin Kanri (or Strategy Deployment). The focal points of this approach are keeping it simple, engaging across all levels of the organization and ensuring multilevel participation and buy-in. This methodology of implementing strategy has proven to be a very effective in getting organizational understanding, input, and buy-in necessary to successfully deploy organizational strategy and continuous improvement cultures. The output of this approach is easily explained by leaders and understood by the associates.
Measure what Matters
RCF Associates has also developed a unique approach to walking the organization through the process of agreeing upon the measurements that will truly indicate when the Continuous Improvement efforts are delivering results that matter the customer and the business. This effort is joined with the Value Stream Analysis, the Strategy Deployment, and the overall business environment to focus the company on the needles that truly need to be moved
Employee Engagement / Continuous Improvement Strategies
We believe strongly that Continuous Improvement and Employee Engagement are co-dependent efforts in such a way that one cannot succeed without the other. RCF Associates help the organizations develop strategic plans and then implement them tactically in a way that results in positive results for both the company and the employee. Without exception, any group we have worked with that has felt the power of self directed continuous improvement has become more engaged in their work environment. When given the opportunity and encouragement to continue, they have continued to become even more engaged and successful.
RCF Associates has extensive industrial experience with manufacturing, construction, project development, and transactional (financial, HR, IT, purchasing, etc.) processes as well as service industry experience including Healthcare, Academia, Information Technology, Engineering and Legal. While there
Standard Work Kaizen
RCF Associates have extensive experience in conducting complete Kaizen activities in all types of work environments. The work environments include not only the standard production environments but also non-operational environments as varied as IT development, business acquisition, health-care, and academic. These kaizen activities include but are not limited to:
- Current and Future Process Development
- Process Improvement
- Problem Solving using A3 and DMAIC
- Mistake Proofing
- Work Content Balancing
- FMEA – Failure Mode Effects Analysis
- Work Cell Development
- Standard Work Playbook
- Last Planner Techniques
RCF Associates has in-depth experience helping clients improve their process flow and utilization capabilities. These activities are designed to insure maximum material availability with the optimum supply process. We have helped service industries embrace material concepts in their own unique environments and discover the effectiveness of this approach. The common tools include but are not limited to:
- Establishing Pull
- Improving Flow
- Set-up Reduction or Quick Change Over
- Establishing and Utilizing Kanban System
- Optimizing the Supply Chain
- Negotiation techniques for supplier incorporation
How do we do business?
Our Business Philosophy
Over the years, RCF Associates has developed its business philosophies that help guide all actions. Our primary driver is to produce value for our clients that exceed their expectations. Our super seven business guides are:
- No predetermined tools — RCF Associates does not believe that there is a magic tool searching for a problem. Each company’s situation and culture is unique. Therefore, we do not come in with a predetermined exercise that may or may not fit.
- Continuous Improvement + Employee Engagement gets results — RCF Associates believes strongly that Continuous Improvement can be successfully inculcated into a culture only in those that have true employee engagement. We also feel that a company can have engaged employees only in the environment that has embraced Continuous Improvement culture.
- Honest feedback — Sometimes the truth is hard to deliver and to hear. In order for us to be effective in your organization, we must honestly deliver our analysis of some tough situations. We always try to deliver the message in a way that the recipient will listen to the advice; however, we always say what must be said!
- Confidentiality throughout — The very nature of our business depends on the client’s willingness to open up the closets that have the hidden skeletons. While maintaining confidentiality outside of our client’s environment is an obvious requirement, we practice extreme care in developing trust within the client’s business relationships. Our job is to help you find solutions to your issues — not publicize or embarrass individuals within your organizations.
- Good Management and Continuous Improvement are hard work — Coming up with ideas for improvement is not hard. Implementing them in an environment that must still meet daily business needs is. We never lose sight of that issue! Our real-life experiences as leaders in real industry scenarios ensure that we do not underestimate the hard work required to execute change.
- Teach the client how to be self-sufficient — RCF Associates recognizes that the best way to get results quickly throughout the client’s business is to teach the leaders how to implement best practices themselves. We pride ourselves on making complicated processes simple and explaining the complex nuances of the seemingly simple processes. This helps ensure that the client understands the depth of the tools we use and can replicate the successes we gain during our-hands on sessions.
- Focus on managing the “Sliver of Hope”© — While almost all managers will fall back on the “we don’t have time to fix that, we are busy producing”, we recognize that all managers have some portion of their resources busy patching holes and quick fixing solutions. RCF coined the phrase the “Sliver of Hope”© to refer to that sliver of resources – however small – that each manager uses to improve or firefight. Our goal is to ensure that the “Sliver of Hope” © is dedicated to improving the areas that have the most positive effect on the whole value stream. If we are successful at this, the “Sliver of Hope” © continues to grow until there are more than enough resources available to sustain a world class continuous improvement culture.
How do we engage?
RCF Associates is a very customer focused and flexible organization. We work with our clients to ensure that they are comfortable with the agreements and that the logistics of working with us are as easy as possible. We have created a multitude of agreement types which custom built in as varied and unique in nature as our clients.
Many clients choose to engage us on a retainer agreement based on estimated time required over a set period of time. These retainers are usually six to twelve month agreements. While we track time to ensure average time and services, both parties recognize that some months may be heavy while others are lighter based on client pull. This method also encourages the individual clients within an organization to simply arrange a meeting or pick up the phone for short sessions without worrying about a time and material charge. Since the specific contracted client is interested in developing their employees, it is a win-win for them. RCF Associates gains by having a longer term agreement which we generally reward with our 'under promise and over deliver' retainer philosophy.
Many projects can be clearly identified and estimated. In these cases, our clients often chose to employ us for specific efforts and deliverables. In some retainer agreements, we manage large blocks of time through a negotiated project based sub-agreement.
Time and Materials Based
For those cases where there is a short term need with unclear time commitments, clients often choose a time and material based agreement. RCF Associates can deliver actual charge notifications on an agreed upon periodic or volume usage tollgate.
RCF is ...
Helping organizations develop a culture that embraces change and implements Continuous Improvement.