Avatel ~ Lean and Mean in 2013 through Continuous Improvement

As we entered into the New Year, we had to take a long, hard, critical look at what we must do to get our company lean, mean, efficient and functioning at its optimum. We must remember that the strong survive, the weak do not. The economy in the world today is always changing and more competitive than ever. To remain successful, we must to stay on top of our game and make every element of our business be the best it can be. If we take the time to do this now, our business will be a “lean, mean, fighting machine.”

Developing a Lean and Mean Strategy offers Avatel an opportunity to drive up value and promote continuous improvement. Continuous improvement (CI) involves making incremental changes that may not be highly visible in the short term; but can lead to significant contributions in the long term. CI is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. It’s simple and constructive, rather than complex and potentially destructive.

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The real knowledge expert of any process is the person who’s doing it every day. A CI culture will help all Avatel team members alter their mindset to challenge everything to improve their work-place. To come up with ideas – however small – that could improve his/her particular job activity, job environment or any company process for that matter.

Most of the time we’re on automatic pilot with our daily processes, and we are not focusing on what’s working well, what’s not working and what could work better. We must create a culture where everyone is empowered to stop the carousel, get off, fix the problem and improve the process to improve performance. We must encourage everyone to question why things are done a certain way and look for new ways to get work done faster, better and with higher levels of quality and service.

Most substantive and sustained improvement comes from the cumulative effect of addressing a multitude of small details rather than launching massive wholesale change. One of the most important elements of the CI philosophy is an effort to make work easier on team members to accomplish, while simultaneously ensuring that our efforts are focused on getting customers what they need and increasing profitability.

The Avatel Road to Continuous Improvement

The real key ingredient in implementing continuous improvement, is adapting a business culture that wants to – and can – problem solve to make improvements.

Avatel’s road to continuous improvement is based on the Kaizen principle which emerges from an ancient Japanese philosophy and it consists of the terms: Kai (change, the action to correct) and Zen (for the better). Kaizen is continuous improvement through small but sure steps made every day, instead of drastic changes made only in times of panic or necessity.

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Many good small ideas can set an organization apart from the crowd. A steady stream of quick-to-implement ideas that constantly improve our business can provide Avatel with a sustainable, long-term advantage.

Our CI process begins when the Avatel Team member identifies a problem or an opportunity for improvement and describes the specific need for improvement, proposing a solution, or specific improvement to an existing situation. Every improvement suggestion will contribute to either: customer satisfaction, cost savings, quality, productivity, process improvements, revenue-generation or improved employee motivation and positive morale.

A vital element of CI is recognizing participants and providing rewards for good ideas. Once an idea/improvement suggestion has been implemented, we will post it on the Avatel “SHINE” board. SHINE stands for “Suggestions Help Increase & Nourish Excellence”.  The SHINE board will acknowledge the team members contributions and will keep the message exposed to all Avatel family members and visitors.

Providing incentives will help motivate our Avatel team members to be more diligent about continuous improvement and idea creation. Our team members will earn points for approved improvement ideas, which can later be traded for tangible gifts. Ideas that will improve, grow, or transform the company—deserve the most points. These points can be accrued and traded for such things: Gift cards, time off, Avaya promotional items, IPad’s, IPod’s, Camera’s, video cameras, Laptops, TV’s, etc. We believe that rewarding great ideas is vital to the success and productivity of Avatel.

I am pleased to say that only one month into our CI program, we have already received several idea/suggestions for improvement and have already approved 10 and completed 3.

I believe that empowering ALL Avatel team members to continuously seek opportunities for improvement is what will allow Avatel to grow, become more productive and profitable. We compete through our products and services, but we must also compete through our ability to improve. This is why developing a culture of CI is such a big deal at Avatel.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP

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