Operational Excellence in Your Office: A Guide to Achieving Autonomous Value Stream Flow with Lean Techniques, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Operational Excellence in Your Office

A Guide to Achieving Autonomous Value Stream Flow with Lean Techniques, 1st Edition

By Kevin J. Duggan, Tim Healey

Productivity Press

275 pages | 176 Color Illus.

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Paperback: 9781498714082
pub: 2016-02-24
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315382623
pub: 2016-02-24
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Operational Excellence is achieved when all employees in your organization can see the flow of value to your customers and can make adjustments to that flow before it breaks down. Operational Excellence in Your Office: A Guide to Achieving Autonomous Value Stream Flow with Lean Techniques presents nine time-tested guidelines for designing business process flow that enable Operational Excellence in the office. Each chapter describes one guideline by using text, illustrations, and practical examples to provide a comprehensive understanding of why creating flow in the office is essential and how to achieve it.

Accounting for the reality that most office employees are required to work on many different projects throughout the day, this book details a step-by-step methodology for leveraging traditional value stream flow to establish Operational Excellence in an office environment. In addition, it describes a more advanced form of flow called "self-healing" flow—in which employees are capable of identifying and fixing problems with the flow without requiring management intervention.

Explaining how to achieve Operational Excellence and self-healing flow with the nine guidelines, the book also introduces new concepts such as part-time continuous flow processing cells, workflow cycles, takt capability, integration events, pitch in the office, and ways to tell whether your office is on time.

With this book, you will be able to take the knowledge provided and immediately apply it by following the step-by-step checklists included at the end of each chapter. In addition to the lists of action items for implementing each guideline, the book includes "acid tests" you can use to determine if you have implemented each guideline correctly.

When finished, you will have designed an end-to-end flow for the services in your office as well as visual systems to help employees distinguish normal flow from abnormal flow so they can fix flow problems on their own, before they negatively impact your customers.


"Kevin’s definition and approach to achieving Operational Excellence in the office is profound, as it provides a true destination for office personnel (and managers!) improving the processes. It makes sense immediately. The five questions for flow in the office are empowering and drive office employees to create not just flow, but a self-healing, autonomous flow that does not require management intervention. Work every page of this book and watch your organization thrive and innovate in the office to achieve top line business growth. Along with Kevin’s other books, the best series of improvement documents available."

—Chuck Miles, Director, Materials Management, Logistics and Inventory, GoGo

"Operational Excellence is a complete change in philosophy. Lean and Six-Sigma are generally viewed as tool sets, and mostly applied in manufacturing/operations, whereas Operational Excellence is the establishment of a holistic operating system for the entire enterprise. Duggan and Healey’s guide to creating flow in the office makes this a powerful transformation, whether you’re a seasoned CI professional or an office manager seeking to create value for your customers."

—H. Scott Parkin, Director, Operational Excellence, United Technologies Aerospace Systems

"Operational Excellence in Your Officeis a very practical guide for transforming office value streams to create flow and provide value stream resources with the visual controls necessary to quickly assess the health of value flow and immediately correct any anomalies. Utilizing the nine guidelines effectively will provide the structure for improving office value streams and processes, creating Operational Excellence throughout the organization."

—Stephen M. Moore, Vice President, Lean Enterprise & Quality, Parker Hannifin Corporation

"This book is a great complement to Creating Mixed Model Value Streams and should be well-received by the many people who have found it a challenge to apply lean concepts in an office environment. Operational Excellence in Your Office provides practical approaches to understanding and managing service value streams while addressing the real world complexity of high-mix service environments. The book presents Operational Excellence concepts in an office setting in a straightforward and non-technical way. The examples will resonate with those familiar with Operational Excellence concepts as well as those considering them for the first time."

—Gerry McCool, Senior Director, Lean Six Sigma, Jabil

"Achieving Operational Excellence in an office environment can be challenging, but Duggan and Healey have developed a robust process that visually shows when office flow becomes abnormal and corrects it autonomously, resulting in self-healing flow throughout the organization. Creating standard work to correct abnormal flow is ingenious and eliminates e-mails, meetings, phone calls, and everyday firefighting, allowing you to focus on the needs of the customer."

—Mark Vidic, Aftermarket Cost Reduction Manager, Caterpillar, Inc.

"Kevin Duggan’s new book, Operational Excellence for the Office, challenges the widely-held belief that only traditional manufacturing environments – and not offices – realize significant benefits from applying the principles of Operational Excellence. In the book, Kevin shows that office processes are not "different" and provides detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to effectively apply Operational Excellence principles to dramatically improve office flow and successfully operate a business in today’s globally competitive environment. The significant advantages to production environments have been well demonstrated – now Kevin shows how offices can realize the same gains."

—Jeffrey M. Corbin, Operations Manager, Laitram Machinery

Table of Contents


Operational Excellence in the Office

The Need for Management Intervention

Applying Lean Concepts to the Office

The OpEx Difference

The Principles of Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence: Practical Terms


The Key Function of Any Office

Value Stream Design for the Office

Determine Service Families

Scoping the Matrix

Refining the Scope

Using the Matrix: The 80/30 Guideline

Service Families and Value Streams

Create a Current State Value Stream Map for Each Service Family


Guideline #1: Takt and Takt Capability

Takt Capability

Demand Profiles

Calculating Takt Time

Guideline #2: Continuous Flow

A Typical Office


Continuous Flow

Obstacles to Continuous Flow

Creating Processing Cells

The Physical Layout


Guideline #3: FIFO

FIFO and the Five Key Questions for Value Stream Flow in the Office

What to Do When FIFO Backs Up

Visual FIFO

Digital FIFO

Multiple FIFO Lanes

Fast Track FIFO Lanes


Guideline #4: Workflow Cycles

Levels of Workflow Cycles

Workflow Cycles and Multiple FIFO Lanes

Workflow Cycles and Calendars

Scheduling Workflow Cycles: Two Options

Sizing FIFO Lanes

Guideline #5: Integration Events

Guideline #6: Standard Work

Activity Level Standard Work

Flow Level Standard Work

Guideline #7: Single-Point Sequencing

Setting the Initialization Point

Determining Additional Sequencing Points

Guideline #8: Pitch

Four Attributes of a Good Pitch

Guideline #9: Changes in Demand

Demand Fluctuations

Changing Takt Capabilities

Designing Different Takt Capabilities

Applying the Nine Guidelines: The Acid Test

Creating Operational Excellence in the Office


Causes of Abnormal Conditions

Self-Healing, Autonomous Flow in the Office

Seeing Abnormal Flow

Fixing Abnormal Flow

Containment Standard Work

The Office That Has Achieved Operational Excellence

Going Forward

Appendix A: Create the Current State Value Stream Map


Appendix B: Create the Future State Value Stream Map


Appendix C: Create the Implementation Plan

Appendix D: Traditional Lean Techniques to Improve the Office

Appendix E: The Lean Plateau


About the Authors


Kevin J. Duggan has more than 30 years of experience applying advanced Lean techniques to achieve Operational Excellence. He is the author of three books on the subject: Design for Operational Excellence: A Breakthrough Strategy for Business Growth (McGraw-Hill, 2011), Creating Mixed Model Value Streams (Productivity Press, 2002), and The Office That Grows Your Business: Achieving Operational Excellence in Your Business Processes (The Institute for Operational Excellence, 2009).

A recognized authority on Operational Excellence, Duggan has contributed to publications such as Industry Week, Aviation Week, Food Engineering, Flow Control, Assembly, Lean Management Journal, and Plant Services, and has appeared on CNN and the Fox Business Network. He is a frequent keynote speaker, master of ceremonies, and panelist at both public and private conferences globally, and he also lectures graduate students in colleges throughout the United States.

In 1998, Duggan founded Duggan Associates (North Kingstown, Rhode Island), an international training and advisory firm that assists companies in applying advanced Lean techniques to their manufacturing and office operations through hands-on support and workshops. Since Duggan Associates’ inception, he has helped Fortune 50 corporations as well as small businesses with single site operations in the insurance, engineering development, financial services, aerospace, energy, and manufacturing industries.

In 2007, Duggan founded the Institute for Operational Excellence (also in North Kingstown), the leading educational center on Operational Excellence, which provides resources, such as workshops, online training, how-to articles, and books to a global community of members.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control