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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Continuous progress company performence

Systematizing Continuous Improvement: It's Not About the Methodology or Tools

Implementing an effective and sustainable continuous improvement (CI) program is hard work.  It typically requires dedicated effort from multiple operations and CI leaders who, let’s face it, start out at a disadvantage. 
Think about it for a moment…all of the work that takes place in a manufacturing operation can be placed in one of two categories: 
(1) Activities required to operate and maintain the plant or 
(2) Activities to improve the way to operate and maintain the plant.

Category one refers to all of the tasks, both proactive and reactive, required each day to ensure that enough first quality product is made to meet the production plan.  The focus is necessarily on the short-term and all of the work has to be done with no exceptions. 
Category two, the work done to make the operation more efficient or otherwise improve working conditions, while important to the long-term competitiveness and viability of the operation, is rarely viewed with the same sense of urgency as category one, which makes it a prime candidate to get postponed by the so-called “tyranny of the now.” 

This natural tendency to deprioritize improvement work represents a significant challenge but fortunately not an insurmountable one.  What is required is a systematic approach that embeds improvement activities into the work flow of the plant so that they are routinized in a manner similar to the “operate and maintain” activities.

Introducing a New Mental Model

The most important paradigm shift that needs to occur to successfully embed CI into the DNA of the organization is to change people’s mental model such that they stop thinking of improvement work as a series of largely disjointed or unrelated activities competing for increasingly limited time and resources. 

The approach for enabling this paradigm shift can’t be to introduce new CI methodologies (e.g., lean, Six Sigma, TPM, etc.) or tools (kaizens, SMED, kanbans, etc.) into the organization because, as described previously, the lack of priority for CI has little to do with the methodology or tools and a lot to do with the perception that improvement work is of secondary importance or otherwise distracts from more urgent operational matters.


Gaining the Full Benefits of Continuous Improvement
How does "change" happen in your organization? Is it through major initiatives, or is it part of the ongoing way you work?
Some types of change inevitably need a major project; meaning months of hard work, big budgets and upheaval.
There is always room to make small improvements, challenge the status quo, and tune processes and practice on an everyday basis. In fact, you and your colleagues probably do this week in, week out without calling it "change" or even "continuous improvement". You're already getting real benefits from the intuitive approach to continuous improvement. And over time, all of these incremental changes add up, and make a significant positive impact on your team and organization.
One approach to continuous, incremental improvement is called kaizen. It originated in Japan and the word translates to mean change (kai) for the good (zen).
Kaizen is based on the philosophical belief that everything can be improved: Some organizations look at a process and see that it's running fine.

Understanding the Approach

Because Kaizen is more a philosophy than a specific tool, its approach is found in many different process improvement methods ranging from Total Quality Management (TQM), to the use of employee suggestion boxes. Under kaizen, all employees are responsible for identifying the gaps and inefficiencies and everyone, at every level in the organization, suggests where improvement can take place.
Kaizen aims for improvements in productivity, effectiveness, safety, and waste reduction, and those who follow the approach often find a whole lot more in return:

  • Less waste – inventory is used more efficiently as are employee skills.
  • People are more satisfied – they have a direct impact on the way things are done.
  • Improved commitment – team members have more of a stake in their job and are more inclined to commit to doing a good job.
  • Improved retention – satisfied and engaged people are more likely to stay.
  • Improved competitiveness – increases in efficiency tend to contribute to lower costs and higher quality products.
  • Improved consumer satisfaction – coming from higher quality products with fewer faults.
  • Improved problem solving – looking at processes from a solutions perspective allows employees to solve problems continuously.
  • Improved teams – working together to solve problems helps build and strengthen existing teams.