dan sandler

How do you define what's important?

    A few years back I had the benefit of going through Six Sigma Lean training. Of the many great topics in lean, the one that stood out most was a tool to determine an items importance was in a process flow.


Before I go into meat of the topic, I'm going to share my thoughts through this comic on how I feel about things of importance.

    The moral of the comic is that no matter how important something is, given enough time its importance is temporary. What's important now, is not what will be important in the future. Failing to catch the now is a missed opportunity but don't worry. Despite the fact that what's important is in constant state of change, using what I'm about to show can help alleviate the pressure with the power of lean.


What I picked up was a simple two column chart:


For each item being evaluated for importance you'll ask the following questions as illustrated in the chart.

1. What does ___ add as value?

2. How is ____ essential to the process?

3. What does ____ add as value but isn't essential?


     When something is essential adds value, it's  critical to the process. These are the key pieces we cannot live without. Non-essential adds value are considered "nice to haves". They would be great to keep/do but are better suited to be backlogged for items of higher importance. When we have items that are essential but have no value the truth is, they have value to the business but there is no perceived value to the client. Items in this category need to be weighed carefully but can be a cost of doing business. Finally, if we end up with a process that is found to be non-essential and has no value, it's waste and we can move on.


    So there you go, a lean way to evaluate items of importance, a "nice to have", process costs of doing business, and what you don't need.