A leader must challenge the organization and provide room for failure sometimes. It is a prerequisite for the business to develop

As I have written in previous articles, it is very important to know the WMS you use and which features you can use in your warehouse flow.

One problem however, how do you know that a specific feature is useful in your warehouse and that there will be positive effects from using it? Most often, you do some kind of analysis, based on assumptions such as how many hours you save and how many more lines you can pick and so on. This uncertainty makes many organizations reluctant to make any changes in its warehouse flow. The risk is too big that the change is a failure or not produce the desired results.

However, is it really a failure to try new things? As long as it does not have a negative impact on the financial I do not think it is a failure, it is a way to find potential efficiency opportunities. It is impossible to calculate everything in theory, especially if you base it on assumptions, you must try first to see if it provides any positive result. If you have a WMS with many features it does not require any investments to try them, all you need is courage and knowledge. Maybe it takes a couple of hours for a consultant to look at the configuration and change any system parameter or hopefully you have a competent superuser in the warehouse that can perform such tasks.

Unfortunately, many companies have a culture that prevents “trial and error” because of the top-down control of the organization and a fear of penalties. The managers are too quick to point out failures instead of encouraging curiosity and innovation. A healthy organization allows managers to take risks (in a positive sense) within established limits of course. If the risk does not financially burden the company or give negative effect on the quality, it does not matter that six out of ten tests or experiments did not produce the desired effect. You have at least made one-step forward and that is better than nothing. It is part of the continuous improvement philosophy to dare and try. It is easy to go back to the original configuration and look for any other function to test if you “fail”.

Many times when testing new features, it can give positive results that you cannot predict. It can be a positive response from employees who feel that their job been made easier, and then raise the morale in your staff, which in turn increases efficiency.

See your WMS and warehouse as a laboratory and you are experimenting to find the optimal flow. But it is important to remember! It may not affect the quality and reliability of the warehouse! And not have an negative impact on financial results! Also, remember to give staff feedback, and to explain why you are testing. Working smarter means less stress for the staff, it gives a win-win situation.

Roberth Karlsson

1 Comment

  1. The author is correct in many accounts. Making the processes easier to the operators will help moral, but have them involved in doing so. For they are the real masters of the processes. One other thing that is he said that change is good as long it dosen’t effect quality and financial. I disagree with the order in which he placed it. I believe that it should be safety, quality, productivity and financial.

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