Non-Technology Business Improvement

The Lab is a radically different management consulting firm focused on implementing non-technology, self-funding business improvements for Fortune 500 companies.

Non-Technology Business Improvement The Road Less Traveled

Manufacturers standardize, specialize, and ultimately automate the work in their conventional “downstairs factories.” “Industrializing” hourly work is an investment.

Today, white collar knowledge workers represent half of all employees. Yet little or no investment is made to industrialize their work.

As a result, forty percent of their activity is wasted and avoidable.

This opportunity is a tempting target for digital upstarts, activist investors and other outsiders. If you’re typical, you don’t notice.

WHY YOU’RE MORE PROFITABLE THAN YOU APPEAR – 5 BELIEFS ERODE 15% OF YOUR EARNINGS.

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BELIEF No.1 Only factory work can be "industrialized"

Conventional wisdom assumes that standardizing work in the “upstairs” factories of marketing, finance or order management is impractical or impossible. But downstairs factories once made the same claim.

Work is work. Industrializing the assembly of a car is vastly more challenging than industrializing a marketing campaign. But you don’t think of knowledge work that way.

All work has valuable, repeatable patterns, but few executives recognize knowledge work repetition.

YOU ACCEPT A CONVENTIONAL (AND FALSE) DIVISION OF WORK.

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BELIEF No.2 Knowledge work can't be standardized

You let knowledge workers decide how to improve their operations. Their work is perceived as non- routine.

But analyze what knowledge workers do. You discover that two-thirds of their work is repetitive and similar. That’s valuable. Basic shop floor techniques — industrialization — can easily standardize these repetitious activities.

Long ago, craftsmen’s work on the shop floor was seen as “non-routine.” After standardization, productivity increased fifty-fold.

The same untapped wealth hides in plain sight in knowledge work.

YOU MISS THE CHANCE TO CREATE KNOWLEDGE WORK “FACTORIES.”

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BELIEF No.3 White collar waste is "virtuous" & unavoidable

In the plant, waste like scrap material or machine downtime is obvious. Reducing it is inarguably valuable.

Knowledge work waste is less obvious. It is error correction, customer over-service or rework.

Point it out as avoidable waste. Knowledge workers will argue that they are preserving revenue and serving customers.

True. But industrialization eliminates the root causes and avoids these tasks.

If you’re typical, you accept these avoidable tasks as indispensable or even virtuous.

YOU LET “VIRTUOUS WASTE” ERODE HARD WON EARNINGS.

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BELIEF No.4 Knowledge work can't use the experience curve

In a plant, knowledge accumulated over decades—the experience curve—is valued and documented. It is built into workflows, tools and work area design.

Employees change, but a factory can consistently produce with variance measured in parts per million.

In an office, the experience curve exists as unwritten “tribal knowledge.” These poorly documented assets are diminished each time a worker leaves.

New hires devise their own personal work methods. They reinvent individual experience curves.

YOU SQUANDER THE POWER OF THE KNOWLEDGE WORK EXPERIENCE CURVE.

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BELIEF No.5 Technology will automate knowledge work

When manufacturers automate, they begin by making the products and tasks simple and standard for machines to handle. This industrialization step is called “design for machinability.” It delivers higher productivity with fewer workers.

When knowledge workers automate, they simplify and standardize very little. They don’t industrialize.

They view much of their work as “non-routine,” and non-standard. Consequently, knowledge workers adopt technology but retain flexibility, inconsistency and workarounds.

KNOWLEDGE WORK TECHNOLOGY FALLS SHORT ON PRODUCTIVITY GOALS.

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The Lab Recover Your Earnings with Non-Technology Improvement

The Lab is a management consulting firm focused exclusively on implementing non-technology improvement. The Lab developed the world’s largest database of improvement templates. Our template-based advantage delivers 3-5 times more non-technology improvements than any other methods.

Each of The Lab’s engagements is self-funding and includes a money-back guarantee. Our projects pay for themselves in 6-8 months and deliver 2-4x payback in the first year.

For over two decades, The Lab has successfully implemented initiatives with Fortune 500 clients that deliver consistent, sustainable benefits.

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Industrialization of Knowledge Work®

Today, white collar knowledge workers represent half of all employees. Yet little investment is made to industrialize their work. As a result, forty percent of their activity is wasted and avoidable. The Lab’s business improvement templates rapidly identify and eliminate this waste, which hides in plain sight and erodes hard won earnings.

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Opportunity

Implementation

The Lab’s Tactics Reduce "Hidden" Waste

Conventional tactics reduce tangible waste

  • Scrap
  • Returned goods
  • Idle time

Tangible waste remediation activity is widely viewed as “low value.”

The Lab reduces intangible, “Virtuous” Waste

  • Error correction
  • Customer “over-service”
  • Manual “work-arounds”

Intangible waste remediation activity is often viewed as “value added.”

Intangible, Virtuous Waste activity consumes 25-40% of organizational capacity - it hides in plain sight.

The Lab Industrializes Knowledge Work

Early 1900s

Manufacturers invested in a disruptive business model – industrialization. They forced the simplification and standardization of factory work. Productivity increased dramatically.


Example: Henry Ford industrialized auto manufacturing by forcibly specializing and standardizing work activities. Productivity increased almost tenfold.

Today

Companies invest in costly technology, hoping to “subtly force” white collar knowledge workers to standardize and streamline their own work activities. Productivity growth remains stagnant.


Example: A Fortune 500 insurer invests heavily in application processing software, yet their error rate for newly issued policies is 3 times the industry average.

The Lab’s methods simplify and standardize knowledge worker activities to increase productivity without new technology.

Non-Technology Improvement

Non-technology improvements outnumber technology-dependent improvements 3-to-1 (75%)

process-non-technology-graph

These Class I improvements require no technological, strategic or regulatory changes

These non-technology improvements are highly similar and fall into 4 major categories…

  1. Inefficient Business Processes: Rework, errors, redundancy, missing data, employee downtime
  2. Mis-Served Customers, Markets: High priorities are under-served, low priorities are over-served
  3. Under-Managed Capacity: Work tasks, capacity and metrics are not documented, quantified or managed
  4. Measurement Imbalance: Revenue and volume metrics are over-emphasized; productivity, quality, service and unit cost are under-emphasized

Template-Based Advantage

process-icon-comparable-business-1Every business is unique…

process-icon-comparable-business-2but the business processes are comparable…

process-icon-comparable-business-3and the work activities are identical.


The Lab’s templates take advantage of inherent similarities in business operations.

Don’t re-invent the wheel.

By using the world’s largest database of business improvement templates, The Lab is able to help clients:

  • Find more improvements
  • Achieve more benefits
  • Accelerate the results

Self-Funding Business Improvement

Most projects pay for themselves by month 6 of the implementation.

process-business-improvement-graph

Our guarantee:

Financial benefits realized during the first full calendar year following implementation will, at minimum, equal the client’s investment in The Lab’s services. If not, The Lab will continue working without charge until they do, or refund the difference.

Guaranteed Results

How does The Lab eliminate risk for clients?

WEEK 0Fixed-Price Proposals: Proposals are based on labor cost and include all document production expenses.

WEEK 1-2Compatibility Checkpoint: During the first two weeks, clients may cancel the engagement for ANY reason and receive a full refund (minus travel cost incurred).

WEEK 3Opportunity Validation Point: If The Lab discovers that a self-funding improvement opportunity does not exist, we will provide a full refund.

WEEK 6-8Analysis Phase Guarantee: The Lab will deliver a set of ‘quick hit’ improvements with benefits that will exceed Phase I expenses.

WEEK 8-32Implementation Phase Guarantee: If an improvement program we implement fails to generate savings at least equal our fees in the first year, we will continue working without charge until it does or refund the difference.

  • Virtuous Waste ®

    The Lab uncovers hidden waste disguised as good, honest work effort: Virtuous Waste. Virtuous Waste typically consumes 40% of organizational capacity.

  • Knowledge Work Industrialization ®

    The Lab uses time-tested techniques pioneered during the Industrial Revolution to standardize knowledge work and recover earnings lost to Virtuous Waste.

  • Non-Technology Improvement ®

    The Lab identifies and implements overlooked improvements that require no new technology, which account for roughly 75% of all operational improvement opportunities.

  • Template-Based Advantage ®

    The Lab uses a database of business improvement templates to capitalize on the similar root causes, remedies and benefits of non-technology improvements.

  • Self-Funding Projects

    The Lab’s template-based projects pay for themselves. The Lab’s clients are typically in the black 6 months after implementation begins.

  • Guaranteed Results

    Each of The Lab's engagements includes a self-funding, money-back guarantee to eliminate risk for both client organizations and project sponsors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do projects take? How is project cost determined?

Phase I, Analysis & Design, lasts 6-8 weeks. Phase II, Implementation, runs for 4-7 months. The Lab eliminates risk and uncertainty by quoting a fixed-price for each phase which is based on the employees and location(s) in scope.

Why would internal teams involve The Lab?

To identify more improvements and accelerate benefits. The Lab helps internal teams meet the demand for rapid results. The Lab does not replace internal teams, in fact they provide roughly two-thirds of new client introductions

How can The Lab complement my digital and IT initiatives?

The Lab's findings and deliverables provide a blueprint for digitization. Before manufacturers automate factory labor, they document and standardize activities - they "industrialize." The Lab "industrializes" knowledge work.

What methodologies does The Lab use?

Any and all that work. The Lab's improvement templates incorporate proven methodologies: Lean Six Sigma, Voice of the Customer, Benchmarking, Leading Practices, Business Process Mapping, and others.