More is More: Make every Change count!

Joe Barkai (make sure you regularly check his blog for some insightful articles) published the article “How Many ECOs are Preventable?” where he states:

Fundamentally, ECOs reflect errors in requirements definition, design or manufacturing. They represent waste in the product development process. ECOs are disruptive and resource intensive, and mature organizations should make an effort to minimize the frequency and impact of ECOs.

In this context ECOs are defined as: Engineering Change Orders, but also abbreviations like ECN and ECR are indicated as possible acronyms for the same.

I underpin this statement in the context of the analysis of 2000 ECOs where almost all of them were some kind of corrective action and agree with the premise of the article. But it also made me think, because I find it difficult to align this statement in the general concept of making changes.

I find it strange that a company would only use ECOs to process corrective actions, because to me every change can be categorised as either:

  1. A change to fix something or in other words a corrective action. These should be prevented as much as possible.
  2. The change that improves something. These should be encouraged, You cannot have enough of these. Improvements generate value and will help perpetuate the company and its purpose.


Corrective actions do not generate value other than that they take away a problem that blocks planned value generation. Therefore corrective actions are a cost and typically these actions are more expensive than, preventing these issues to occur.

More is more.

So you need more changes, but you have to make them count. Waste less, change more, is about preventing the need for corrective actions and spending all that energy into meaningful changes. This does require you to be fast and efficient in processing changes, but it will pay off. 

 Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash, Modified by Martijn Dullaart.

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