If you want to use continuous improvement and develop your warehouse production you need to take risks. You will not make any progress if you do not dare to take calculated risks. This applies in most business areas. Otherwise you will end up in a state where you only manage your current operations.
It is no cliché, a successful leader must be courageous and humble. A failure is not a big thing as long as it doesn’t cost a lot of money, it is one step closer to success.
Calculate and consider the risk of a change you plan to do. Make sure it is easy to rewind to the old procedure if the change is not a success. For example:
You know the current costs of packaging material you use in the warehouse and you know how much time your staff spend to package all the goods to customers. The statistics looks good regarding transport damages. But how do you know your warehouse production isn’t too ambitious? What if you could have the same statistics regarding transport damages and also save money in packaging material and labor costs? In a case like this you can’t find an answer using theoretical knowledge, you need to take a risk using trial and error in practice. Warehousing is not a science where you can find all the answers in mathematical theory. You need to take some risks to make progress. Of course, it is important to be clear and communicate what you do to relevant parties.
I have done the example above in a warehouse production. No one had thought about it. Everybody was satisfied with the quality. Of course everybody wanted lower production costs but no one was willing to take the risk. I explained, as long as we have a close follow up with our customers and measuring quality statistics it is easy to rewind if we see negative results. The project was a success, we reduced the packaging costs and increased efficiency. The quality was at the same level.
I have used this working method many times in different operations with great success. As long as it doesn’t cost a lot of money and there is not too big risks regarding customer satisfaction for example there is no reason not trying.
I recommend everyone to look with critical eyes at current warehouse operations and value if it is possible to make any changes to save time and money. Not only operations you are dissatisfied with, I mean every operation. That is continuous improvement with lean thinking. Lean is not a science it is actually very often trial and error without prestige and with the courage to make mistakes and to take responsibility for progress.