It is evident that the efforts to improve the performance of companies have been important ever since the commencement of the industrial era only because of the known well-documented practitioners in the area of performance improvement who were Adam, Baggage, Frank, Lillian Gilbreth, Taylor, Henry Ford Johansson and Olhager.
But ever since the 1950s, we are told that the competition between companies have over time increased as markets have also become increasingly global and there are however no signs that this competition will ever come to ease up.
This increase in competition creates an even much greater need for first rate improvement methods that could sustain competitiveness through the origins of a number of the methods of operations that are in use today which lie in the strong development period during and immediately after the Second World War, principally in the United States of America.
It is however these kinds of methods that were imported to improve Japan, whilst the original United States methods were however successfully imported and put to work in a Japanese way of working.
It is however evident here that from just simple, basic concepts and approaches, the Toyota production system was therefore synthesized and as a result, it resulted in various additions and derivative methods like benchmarking.
We are told that some of these methods resulted in the lean manufacturing concept, such that when the methods were introduced into the West, the implementation was often not that fully successful. Womack, Jones and Ross also asserted that most of the Western companies could still or are still referred to as “traditional” mass production companies (79).
They however try to compare this with General Motors Company, which has several plants in various parts of the world, several managers and sufficient workers. Therefore, the developments of such methods in Japan however, did spark a new round of thinking in the West and the development of a number of new improvement methods as a competitive counteraction against the Japanese movements like theory of constraints, business process re-engineering and kaizen which was called business process improvement.
All these methods could therefore have similar fundamental aims that could be used to improve the operations. There are different means by which they could set out to accomplish this, and also in their scope. But, a common failing system is that these methods do not offer decision support as to which performance factors are there to improve. However, when it comes to measuring the literature, it often lists specific measurements to be made but this approach could also suggest that improvement methods are static.
But since the operational activity could be referred to as dynamic, so must the improvement methods be. But we are also told in the paper that the methods chosen are from the most well known areas such as OD and TQM of which are not an attempt to covering up the complete set of the methods. Also, by identifying the steps used in the methods found in the papers, the similarities and the differences between the methods can however be identified easily.
There is also a need to extensively range the changes and improvement methods described within the literature of which many of them are mainly because they are focused in presuming that some work has already taken place to identify the problematic area and thus selecting the tool (Stevenson 56).
These ideas have do have practical implications in my professional life in a major way since the operations improvement mainly involves measuring, both as a diagnostic tool and also as a monitoring tool used to measure progress and results. It is however not that possible to be prescriptive as to what to measure, but since that depends on the nature of any problem and the area under the review.
There are many methods available to use in the improvement of operational activity, some of which are relatively generic whilst others are specific to a given area of work. Most of them may or could have some fundamental similarities. But what could be the key to any given investigation is to mainly select the most appropriate method for the study. This therefore involves first selecting the key factors that need to be improved and then selecting a method or the methods that can focus on such factors.
Therefore, when it comes to carrying out investigations, using selected techniques, it then becomes important to measure the progress and even the outcomes. This helps when it comes to the selection of an appropriate measurement technique or even a regime.
There are however, some methodologies and techniques that are therefore put across so as to aim at improving the effectiveness and the efficiency of operational activity. We have some examples such business process reengineering, such as total quality management and organizational development.
Some of these methods will differ from each other in how the so called improvement could be achieved and implemented and even what is there to be improved. It is evident that from a review of these methods that are based on the literature that is available, none of the above methods are particularly strongly believed to identify on what to improve or even how to find potential improvement on the areas.
Stevenson W. Operations Management. 8th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2006. Print
Womack, J., Jones, D. and Ross, D. Lean Thinking Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation. London: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print.