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Using Rummler-Brache Diagrams for Health and Safety Performance Gauging and Measurement

In Health and Safety I have taught worldwide the practice of plus one in my health and safety programs and road to zero injuries or incidents at work. And remember charts and graphs are about seeing hole in your program for performance safety not seeing hole in workers and people!

The first step to spotting inefficiencies and making improvements is to break down your organization’s processes into manageable pieces. If you tried to look at everything at once and in detail, you’d be overwhelmed.

So before you get started, it’s important to clarify what you are trying to accomplish with the Rummler – Brache method, and so determine the right areas of focus and level of detail.

Safety Value Chain Analysis is a three-step process:

  1. Safety Activity Analysis:First, you identify the activities you undertake to deliver your safety or service.
  2. Safety Value Analysis:Second, for each activity, you think through what you would do to add the greatest value for your workers.
  3. Safety Evaluation and Planning:Thirdly, you evaluate whether it is worth making changes, and then plan for action.

The first step is to find out exactly where you are now. You can then create an accurate “roadmap” to get from your current position to your desired endpoint.

SIPOC Diagrams are useful tools for doing this in business. They provide a simple way of taking a “before” picture, so that you can compare this with your “after” picture, hopefully demonstrating improvement. (SIPOC, coming from Six Sigma, stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs and Customers.)

The Six Sigma  methodology provides a firm foundation for making changes in a controlled and effective way. SIPOC is part of the “Measure” phase of Six Sigma’s core DMAIC sequence (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control).

You’ll likely start with drawing flow charts by hand, but it’s often more convenient to use a diagramming app to save, amend and share your charts.

Such apps vary from the simple and free, such as draw.iocreately and Pencil Project, to the more complex and paid-for, such as gliffy™LucidchartSmartDraw™, and Visio®.

If you are trying to find strategic inefficiencies, then analyzing every process in detail is unnecessary and cumbersome. Here you might assign each main functional area to a swim lane and look at the interchanges in and between them. This would help you spot disconnects between functional areas of the business.

If you were trying to diagnose inefficiencies in your hiring and recruitment process then you would look at specific roles, departments and perhaps some key individuals and assign these to the swim lanes.

For a comprehensive approach, you may start by analyzing the processes and organization using high level swim lane diagrams.

  1. Determine what you aim to accomplish.
  • What safety business process do you want to analyze?
  • Is it safety operational, safety strategic,safety functional, etc.?
  • What organization units are involved and what level of detail do you want to analyze these to spot safety inefficiencies?
  1. Clarify the processes you are focusing on.

A process is defined for this purpose as a series of tasks that have a specific end result, such as hiring a new staff member, producing a product, acquiring a new customer via your safety programs and stats.

  • For each process you are analyzing, what is the end result?
  1. Identify all participants in the processes you are analyzing.

These include all the organization units participating in the processes, and anyone who provides inputs or receives outputs from it. Depending on the level of detail you have chosen, these may be by departments, teams or individual people; or even a computer system that performs certain parts of the process.

  • Which organization units participate?
  • Where do the inputs to the process come from?
  • Who receives the output of the process?
  1. Now it’s time to start creating the diagram.

List the participants in the far left column of the diagram.

Assign each of these participants to a horizontal band (swim lane). It is helpful to assign the swim lanes in sequence, with the first column assigned to the participant who provides the first input. (For workers facing processes, this is often the PSM.)

  1. List the step or activities required at each stage of the process:
  • Follow through the process sequentially.
  • Remember you are mapping how the process is currently being done – not how you think it should be done.
  • The key to creating a useful diagram is to keep it as simple as possible. Try not to include too many loop backs (unless you are focusing on exceptions) – and keep the process mapping moving forward.
  1. Analyze the diagram for potential areas of improvement.
  • Are there any gaps or steps missing?
  • Is there duplication?
  • Are there overlaps, where several people or teams perform the same task or activity?
  • Are there activities that add no value?

As with any proposed changes in the organization, the pros and cons need to be analyzed, and any change that follow must be carefully planned.

For example, if you are considering removing duplicate processes, you must first look at whether there is a legitimate need and also what would be the impact of removing the duplication: A duplicate process may exist “legitimately” to provide, for example, proper financial or safety controls.

Terry Penney

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