While continuous improvement can be difficult to begin and maintain, people have validated many concepts and tools to help along the way:
1. Align – Set a Direction
Create a Clear Vision
Acknowledge Hard Truths
Link your Vision and Decisions
Long term goals must have explicit links to actionable metrics:
2. Assess – Understand the situation
While blind spots are dangerous in any context, several templates can help to expose and address:
The more stakeholders can win, the greater the chance of success.
Visualization of broad categories of factors being considered
3. Advance – Continuously Improve
For true continuous improvement, cycles of improvement are always followed by another cycle. Here are some cycles for common contexts:
Through discipline comes freedom
Work to Standards
“Without standards, there can be no improvement.” – Taichi Ohno
- Define standards to create standard work
- Possible Causes of Standard Work Fails
- Use strengths to kickstart skills
Plan: What will we try and how? How will we know if it is successful?
Do: Try the idea, collecting data and insights throughout
Check/Study: Review and analyze results
Act: Decide whether to adopt the idea and move onto the next idea, adapt and try again, or abandon the idea and move onto another idea
Sort: What is valuable enough to keep/continue? What should be removed/stopped?
Simplify: How can we organize to maximize value?
Sweep: How can we make the important aspects intuitive enough for people collaborate effectively?
Standardize: How can we be explicit about our choices so that everyone can take the best actions?
Sustain: How do we ensure that progress is not only maintained, but fostered?
General Concepts and Tools for Continuous Improvement
- Delaying pain leads to more in the future
- Not my fault, still my problem
- It is always now
- Externalize setup
Address the Exceptional
80:20 Rule (Pareto)
At least 80% of an outcome, good or bad, results from 20% of the inputs
Just in Time (On Demand)
One Piece Flow
From bipolar to continuous flow
Singles > batches
Level the load
Balance the burden over time/space/people/equipment to ensure reliable results
Daily Visual Management
- Make work visible, visual, and actionable on a daily basis
- Evidence-based decisions > Decision-based evidence
- Status at a glance
- Build intelligence throughout
- Using technology to support instead of control
- Jidoka (in Japanese)
Go to the Source
- Decisions and analysis should be located at or next to the efforts affected
- Stop and see
- Anything but truth is tyranny
- “Go to the Gemba”
A3 Problem Solving
Create a clear relationship between problem and solutions within a single page/screen:
- Root Cause(s)
- Plan to resolve