YKK Stories

YKK Fundamental Behavior 10 – Be Process Driven

August 26, 2022
Author: YKK
Fundamental Behaviors

Naturally, a process-driven organization will have certain advantages over other types of organizations. However, I feel it is necessary to delve a little deeper into that concept…

It is common for organizations to believe that if they document their processes explicitly and in great detail and provide them to their employees as a reference manual, then they are being process driven.  This is a good approach, but documentation alone will not make an organization process driven because decision making is still constrained by the people approach (criteria).

I personally believe that a process-driven organization has to be a continuous learning, flexible, and adaptive organization.  Also, it is essential to know how to unlearn, as this will give us the ability to adapt to a changing environment, in a fast and non-disruptive way.

A process-driven organization must develop the ability to treat problems as opportunities for improvement. To achieve this, everyone in the organization must have the ability to be able to see the problems. Taiichi Ohno San referred to the need to make problems visible, to recognize shortcomings and weaknesses, so that they can be addressed. That is, unless problems are seen or identified, they will not be solved, causing us to gradually become accustomed to living with them.

Likewise, it is very important to know our processes, always keeping in mind what our customers demand (focus on results), without forgetting that people are our most valuable asset.  Also, we must have the ability to handle the complexities that arise from growth, because as companies grow, the number of rules increases, the rigidity of the system increases (often becoming contradictory and bureaucratic). Why? Because we begin to divide functions, and egos, personalities, communication problems, etc. appear.  Therefore, it is important to look for processes that guarantee an effective management of this complexity to make the company less driven by people and more driven by processes. Sometimes I miss those days when we were just a few of us playing at making buttons!!!

In YKK I have had the opportunity (and fortune) to live two very special situations: The first one was when, in 2004, we started the SMM adventure from scratch, when we had to build a plant knowing absolutely nothing of what it means to produce one button, starting from a process developed in other conditions and run face to face with the fact that the result was not the desired one! At that moment we had to forget the defined process to focus on the desired result and little by little redesign our processes according to our capabilities. It was not easy to do, since the finishing process is more art than science, and that cannot be captured in a procedure. Anyone who has worked in the finishing process will understand what I’m talking about.

The second situation I am referring to is the one we are living now—when we are already talking about “preparing the next generation,” as this has forced me to reevaluate everything done in order to ensure that the processes developed work no matter who is here, taking away that “personal touch” to the process, always looking for a culture of continuous improvement.

Let’s remember: “Most people don’t want to be part of the process, they just want to be part of the outcome. But it’s in the process that you realize who deserves to be in the outcome.”

Raul Alba
Finishing Engineering Manager
YKK Snap Fasteners Manufactura Mexico S.A. de C.V.