The EU has certainly brought benefits to the UK. However, these benefits have come at a cost and this cost has been distributed unevenly across the UK. By cost, I don’t mean the annual contribution that we make but more the hidden costs associated with membership. In joining we have had to accept the demise of industries once at the core of UK life (fishing is an example) as well as turn our backs on countries outside the UK with which we have had historical trading ties (typically through the Commonwealth).
In addition, the introduction of the free labour movement has seen not only the useful movement of skilled labour into areas where it is needed but also the flooding of the semi-skilled and unskilled markets with cheap labour. Bringing costs down is not a bad thing, but there are inevitably social consequences when it is achieved by reducing labour costs rather than improved processes.
In communities dependent on supplying labour into these latter markets, jobs have either become scarcer (supply of labour outstripping demand) or it has resulted in a depression in the wages paid to people as employers have a bigger potential workforce from which to draw (and the appearance of zero-hour contracts). In addition, these communities have found themselves inundated with migrant labour which has not only put pressure on existing infrastructure (hospitals, schools, etc) but has also alienated some people who feel like strangers in their own communities.
Migration in these areas has been more akin to an invasion rather than a steady integration. So, in short, the hidden costs of the EU have been distributed unevenly throughout the country. Add to this the pressure of austerity measures introduced following a recession caused entirely by the greed of unscrupulous financiers and you have the potential for large swathes of the population feeling ignored and disenfranchised.
Now throw into this mix the idea that the population of the UK will be given a vote on whether to stay in or leave the EU. What do you think is likely to happen? Well, just what did happen. Those areas of the country feeling the greatest pain have voted to leave. Those areas of the country suitably blanketed from the hidden costs have voted to stay.
To steal from Stevie Smith,
If this means leaving the EU, then the short economic term pain will be worth it if the long term social benefit is to bring the disparity parts of the UK closer together again.
BTW, did you notice that I made no mention of the MPs or anyone involved in the political process?
Why? Because vested interest and party politics are driving their agendas. What I am citing here is what the people of this country need – not the politicians.
Sources – Nemo’s comment
A continuous improvement plan doesn’t need to be complex it simply needs a process that allows you to do 4 key things.
Plan – What are you setting out to achieve and how will you do it?
Do – Execute your plan
Check – measure your performance on your plan
Act – implement some actions from your review of performance.
One of the most important things (surprisingly neglected at times) is to set yourself a plan and objectives – for example this might be reducing the inventory levels – it might be improving schedule adherence or it might be to looking to reduce customer rejects whatever the objectives are documented them in a plan, with measurable targets and timescales.
You’ll also need to consider two key ingredients –
1. A standard process (that people are supposed to follow)……and
2. Measurable data.
The whole point of CI activity is to base your actions on facts and data and not just knee-jerk reactions of what you think might fix it today. Continuous improvement programs invariably get results because they follow a process
So, looking to get started? Here are 5 tips for continuous improvement in a supply chain environment.
Use KPI’s for what they are meant for –
Most (if not all) business use some form of key performance indicators. KPI’s are great but they should form part of the Check element of your PDCA process and you should not just look at them and then let them gather dust but you should look to use them as the basis for your action plan.
Listen to feedback
Another often overlooked input into improvement is to simply listen to what your supplier network is telling you. No doubt you have supplier business reviews? If so make them work for you – don’t just use them to beat up the supplier but use them to also get constructive feedback on what issues you as a customer cause and what you can do to improve the supplier’s performance. This step alone can generate some hugely significant ideas (often ones you might not have considered).
Document your processes
If you’re looking to improve – make sure you capture what you do now. Have you got your processes standardized and documented? Does everyone know what they should be doing and when? This should be seen as one of the first steps in improvement.”
Look to implement a culture of continuous improvement
Once you’ve got your processes documented and the whole team is working in a standard way the next step is to encourage improvements. Continuous improvement is not a one-man job and your whole team needs to buy into the principle. An army of improvers can achieve great things! Following simple programs like PDCA doesn’t have to be complicated and should be envelope the whole team.
It seems obvious but set yourself targets. Don’t over-reach but don’t make them too easy either. In your plan, set out what you want to achieve and by when and then religiously measure and analyze. Without targets, your department will probably drift along aimlessly chewing around the periphery of issues without ever really grasping at a coherent plan to improve. Objectives focus everyone’s attention.
There are countless other things you can do to deliver improvements but the above should get you started and is a simple enough concept to flow out to your team. As a final step, remember to be selective about your improvement steps – look to deliver on achievable improvements that will deliver results. Don’t waste your time and focus on issues that might not deliver significant improvement return. Remember it’s your time and resource you’re putting into this so you want to make sure you get an appropriate rate of return from the effort.