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Transition to Management

Preparing for a management role

The transition from technical professional to manager involves a career change — and this can be disruptive and challenging. Your focus shifts from the factual world of systems and processes to one of budgets, people, and politics. Even if you’re highly skilled in your field, you’ll need different skills to be a good manager — so preparation is essential.

To prepare for your move into management, you should consider taking these four steps:

  • educate yourself about how your company works and what it takes to be a good manager,
  • examine and align yourself with your company’s mission and culture,
  • think about what your approach to the role will be, and
  • plan the expectations you’ll have as a manager in advance.

Educating yourself

Your first step is to educate yourself about the way your company works and how you’re expected to do your job. It’s a good idea to review your company’s policies, to ask your current manager for advice or any reference material you may need, and to attend managerial training.

Review company’s policies

Although you won’t be expected to have all the answers on your first day, you should refresh your knowledge of company procedures and policies so you know what rules you’re expected to enforce. Your company’s employee handbook is a useful place to start.

For example, you need to brush up on hiring regulations, and vacation and overtime policies. You should also know how often performance reviews must be conducted.

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Pull Systems in Future State Mapping

How do you improve efficiency in a situation where processes change often or aren’t repeatable?

A pull production system

One way is to implement a pull production system to balance the production line. With a push system, materials and information move forward once a process is complete.

This doesn’t consider whether there’s enough capacity to continue processing at the next stage or even if there’s a requirement of materials. In contrast, with pull systems, materials and information move only when they’re needed by a process further down the line.

A push production system

Consider a customer ordering stools for his bar. A push system would send the order to the first process in the production line and then push the product through each subsequent process.

If a pull system is used, the order goes directly to the inspection process, finished products are pulled from inventory, and then orders are pulled from the painting process.


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Identifying Waste in a Value Stream Map

When analyzing value streams, you’re trying to root out inefficiencies — in other words, you’re figuring out what doesn’t add value, or is wasteful.

Identify sources of waste

When analyzing future-state value stream maps, you need to ensure all waste is removed because these maps are meant to provide strategic direction for future improvements and for measuring performance. If anything is wasted, these predictions may be off.

So when developing a future-state value stream map, you first identify sources of waste highlighted in the current-state map. Then you identify process blocks — areas where bottlenecks are occurring — and try to balance the production line.

5 Whys

Once you’ve identified waste, use the 5 Whys process — asking five “why” questions — to help determine its root cause.

For instance, say an operator spends ten minutes gathering required components, you could ask them why it took so long. Perhaps they explain that the stock is kept in a separate room in five different boxes. So you ask why it’s in so many boxes. And so on until you get to the source of the problem.
Consider the types of waste you encounter.

Why excess motion?

Excess motion, for one, is unnecessary movement and time spent walking around. For example, in a home theater system assembly line, workers may make several trips to collect components. A way to combat this motion waste is to put the components closer to the workers and giving them a trolley to collect a bunch at once.


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Creating a Value Stream Map

Once you’ve identified a product or service to improve, you’re ready to create the current-state value stream map to gain an overview of the process.

Customer, supplier, process

First add the customer and supplier at either ends of the map. Next, add the processes, starting with the final step — this is typically the delivery of the finished product.

Let’s say you work for a manufacturer of cell phone batteries that has two main customers. To create the shell of the map, start with the source symbols, which are rectangles with jagged tops. Put the supplier on the left side, the usual starting point for a material flow — and put the customer on the right side, the usual end point for a material flow.

You represent delivery from the supplier to the customer with truck symbols. Then you add five rectangles for the main processes, which are electrode coating, cell assembly, formation, testing, and packaging.

Map the production flow

Once you’ve created the shell, you’re ready to map the production flow.
Next, connect the processes with push arrows — which are striped, straight arrows — indicating material flow pushed to the next phase.

Then, add the number of operators and the circular operator icon for each process to the top of the process boxes. For example, the electrode coating process uses three operators.