The coronation on June 2nd 1953 symbolised the transference of regal power from King George VI to Princess Elizabeth II. As the first coronation to be televised, it was watched by 27 million people in the UK and millions more around the world.
As changeovers go, this isn’t exemplary – the Queen had acceded to the throne four months earlier, following George’s death, and the coronation service itself took almost 3 hours. In keeping with centuries of tradition, it included the oath, anointing, investiture, crowing and enthronement. The millions who watched it on television really did put a shift in!
Changeovers are a key focus when we’re looking to improve the efficiency of a process. Changeovers, for example changing the settings of machines or switching between systems or IT applications, can be time consuming can disrupt the flow of work through the process, therefore disrupting the delivery of value to the customer. SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) is the Lean term that describes the goal of changeover processes. As its name suggests it applies to manufacturing processes, though clearly the concept applies widely, beyond manufacturing, into transactional processes and even into royal processes! Key to improving changeovers is completing as many steps as possible while the machine or system is in operation, and minimising the work that has to be done while it is shut down.
According to some (rough) calculations, the average time between coronations is twenty-three and a bit years, and of course we are currently celebrating the fact that the last one happened 70 years ago. But the royals are responsible for a more regular and timely process involving changeovers – the Changing of the Guard, which takes place every other day at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences.
This process could be regarded as a textbook changeover process. It is highly standardised, and the standard procedure is executed unfailingly by the Queen’s Guards. In the instance that something goes wrong, a response plan has been developed. The Changing of the Guard process also features elements of visual management and poka yoke. The distinctive unforms worn by the Queen’s Guards help to distinguish between friend from foe, for example.
When we think of the ultimate changeover process the Formula 1 tyre change process comes to mind. The tyre is changed and other mechanical repairs and adjustments are carried out in the blink of an eye. However, creating a Formula 1 Changing of the Guard or coronation experience would undermine a fundamental principle of Lean which is to understand what adds value to the customer and shape processes to deliver it. Millions of spectators would feel short-changed by a royal changeover taking less than 2 seconds, though it is definitely fun to imagine!
Contact us if you would like to improve a changeover, or learn how to innovate processes with our Business Black Belt training.
However you plan to spend your Bank Holiday weekend, have a glorious one.