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Cooperation: The Secret Ingredient to Boosting Mine Productivity

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Our last blog post delved into Arrie van Niekerk's three-bottle experiment, demonstrating how identifying and addressing bottlenecks can significantly enhance system flow and stability (productivity). However, we also highlighted that delivering superior results requires more than merely altering operational rules.

Twenty years of experience shows that the most impactful results occur when we encourage and foster a culture of cooperation and coordination among workers. This approach is most effective when it doesn't require management to micromanage every interaction, and instead, employees feel empowered to suggest improvements and make decisions.

To achieve this, we need to make cooperation not just a concept but a visible, tangible practice that is rewarded and celebrated. As the Gallup Q12 engagement survey has shown, engaged and cooperative teams consistently deliver superior results. However, fostering cooperation and engagement has its challenges.

Goldratt identified several factors that can impede these efforts:

Many employees are unaware of how their individual roles contribute to the broader organisational goals.

Similarly, employees often don't understand how their colleagues' work aligns with and supports these goals.

Departmental conflicts often arise, particularly when department-specific KPIs conflict with overarching goals like overall mine productivity.

There are often discrepancies between responsibility and authority, creating confusion and inefficiency.

So, what does an effective solution look like? How can we enhance cooperation and, in turn, productivity?

A short daily meeting to foster coordination and cross-functional cooperation works well. The following will increase the likelihood of success: Colour-coded indicators to signify priority, key decision makers in attendance, sufficient visibility to enable management to delegate safely and to allow peer pressure to drive cooperation, rewarding those that support critical actions outside their departments.

We've seen these strategies yield impressive results with Stratflow's Flow Room. To learn more about implementing this, see the video below, starting from the 14-minute mark.

In summary: Increasing cooperation is a powerful lever that can transform your mining operations while reducing workload.

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