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Making Continuous Improvement Work

Building a better business with analytics and implemented through staff engagement; applying Lean Six Sigma and TOC to build a learning organization.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a popular phrase but often leaves leadership struggling. Leadership does not have all the answers, particularly for the day-to-day issues of the staff. How can we engage the staff in making things better that will also drive the company's P&L? It is conceptually easy but difficult in a practical sense.

Leadership knows how to read the numbers and understands how the company's outward performance stands. Many top leaders do not understand how the company actually makes that happen. They don't see the day-to-day processes that their people struggle to use. They may not even think of their business as a sequence of processes. However, that is what the staff experience every day. The staff deal with their link in the chain that delivers your product or service to customers and may not see the whole value stream.

3 Box Process Flow Diagram, Capability Analysis Graph, Pareto Chart

Leveraging the strength and vision of the leadership with the common sense and day-to-day practicality of the staff is the key to successful continuous improvement.

  • Use business process measures to identify areas of opportunity
  • Engage the staff in understanding what works and what doesn't in that area
  • Develop new systems and tools that make it easier to do the right thing quickly
  • Learn from each effort
  • Keep on keeping on...

Check out this article on best practices.

There are no shortcuts and it takes courage to trust the people who do the work to figure out the best solution.  It also takes courage to accept that the solution put in place today will have to be revised in the future.  Everything changes; why shouldn’t the way you work?

Brue & Howes showed in 2006 that companies implementing Six Sigma can return three to four times their investment in just 18 months.  Six Sigma may not be your solution, but consider the performance of companies like General Electric, Johnson Controls, Thedacare, and Toyota.  They are remarkable examples of applying continuous improvement in a variety of environments.  If they can achieve such incredible results, you can too.

Download the article on leadership in a continuous improvement environment. 

If you would like to talk further about continuous improvement and how it might work in your company, contact Next Target.