Recently, on a NASPO webinar aimed at helping state procurement officials determine what continuous improvement tools and methods might be able to do for them, presenters Jason Soza (CPO, Alaska) and Richard Pennington (NASPO Life Members and NASPO ValuePoint General Counsel) tried to solve a huge problem; the chickens keep getting run over by cars because they’re trying to cross the road…
Jason: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Richard: “To get to the other side.”
Jason: “Why did the chicken need to get to the other side?”
Richard: “To stretch its legs.”
Jason: “Why did the chicken need to stretch its legs?”
Richard: “Because the chicken coop is too small.”
Jason: “Well, why is the chicken coop too small?”
Richard: “Because it was actually built for smaller chickens.”
Jason: “Why was it built for smaller chickens?”
Richard: “Because in my research, I found out since it was built in 1959, the chickens were 25% the size they are now.”
Jason: “Ohhhh! Okay well how do we fix that problem then?”
Richard: “We build a bigger chicken coop for modern chicken sizes!”
Discovering the root cause of why the chickens kept crossing the road is an example of one of the continuous improvement tools presented by Jason and Richard in the first installment in the NASPO Continuous Improvement Webinar Series. Jason introduced this simple root cause analysis tool, called “5 Whys, 1 How.” To determine the problem, you simply continue asking ”why?” until you identify the root cause. Once the root cause has been identified, that’s when you ask, “How can we fix it?”
This Continuous Improvement Webinar also focused on quality management and a few other simple tools that can be used to improve processes and gain efficiency in state procurement offices. Other topics covered included tips on fostering a culture of change in a procurement organization, the fundamentals of continuous improvement, and additional techniques such as brainstorming, and different diagrams that teams can use to capture ideas and sort them based on priority, impact, and internal control.
Implementing these changes now, using the tools discussed, was one of the biggest takeaways from the Continuous Improvement Webinar. Richard and Jason expressed how important continuous improvement is to state procurement organizations, so they challenged the viewers to ”Find the Gap”: Go and visit, in person, a customer that needs some work and ask them, “What is one thing that we can do—or stop doing—that will help you succeed?” By asking that one easy question, it will begin the process of change. The challenge is to “find the gap” between what the customer thinks the future should be and what you’re doing right now and do something to start planning to close the gap. Watch the webinar to get more information on the “Find the Gap” challenge and then share your outcomes with us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you missed the webinar and would still like to learn more about continuous improvement, click here to review the recorded webinar on NASPO’s Best Practices YouTube channel. No time to view the webinar? Click here to see the one-page Webinar Recap.