DMAIC is a structured, customer-focused, data-driven approach to problem-solving. The acronym stands for “Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.” It is often associated with the Lean or Six Sigma business methodologies but can be valuable for any organization looking to support incremental improvement.
Apr 12, 2019 7:56:00 AM
Apr 3, 2019 7:43:00 AM
Every business leader we talk to says that they would like to achieve continuous improvement. We’ve never heard one yet say, “Nah, who needs that?” But, strangely, not every organization has implemented a structure to support improvement or worked to develop a culture that values it.
That seems odd, right?
It turns out that this isn’t the result of leaders who are stupid or lazy. There are a lot of ways to rationalize against the effort and investment it takes to make using a continuous improvement cycle part of everyday operations. But if you press on these ideas a bit, you’ll find that they deflate under pressure. Here are a few that we see quite a bit.
Mar 15, 2019 7:11:00 AM
The urgency to improve organizational performance is at an all-time high. Today’s customers expect more value for every dollar, knowledgeable employees are difficult to find and retain, competition is fierce, technology and data grow increasingly complex, and business models evolve ever more quickly. Given all of that and the complexity of modern organizations, a scatter-shot approach to improvement is not enough. Organizations need a systematic approach to incremental change that will drive them toward the ultimate goal of performance excellence.
The Baldrige Framework, which was developed in 1987 as a public-private partnership to be managed by the Department of Commerce, specifically the National Bureau of Standards (now called the National Institute of Standards and Technology – or NIST), provides a structure that organizations can use to diagnose weaknesses and set priorities for improvement. The approach has been proven to help organizations transform with respect to customer satisfaction, employee engagement, leadership effectiveness, resource optimization, and ultimately performance excellence.
Jan 10, 2019 8:11:00 AM
Organizations that embrace the continuous improvement approach to business have many great tools and techniques from which to choose. Some organizations use them as part of a structured methodology like Lean, Six Sigma, or Toyota Kata. Others leverage them on their own. Every organization has unique needs and will need to adjust each method for their own environment, but the most popular techniques are flexible enough to be used by organizations of every size and in every industry.
Dec 31, 2018 11:15:22 AM
In fitness, there’s nothing complicated about a push-up. But when executed properly, it’s an outstanding exercise that strengths your arms, chest, and core muscles. Adjustments can be made to increase or decrease the level of difficulty, so it is a useful training tool regardless of your fitness level. However, if you fail to use proper form and end up with your butt in the air or an incomplete range of motion, push-ups are not helpful at all. The way you do it really matters.
The same is true for Kaizen. Just like we’d all love to be strong and fit, every organization would love to maximize positive change. But not all teams that attempt continuous improvement succeed, often as a result of poor “form.” Improvement kata is the answer.
In Japanese, the word kata literally means "form." A kata typically refers to basic movements in Japanese martial arts but can apply to any basic form, routine, or pattern of behavior. In business, improvement kata brings form to process improvement by structuring the way people think about problem-solving and engage in change.
The kata process has four steps.
Dec 27, 2018 8:31:45 AM
We’ve had lots of great conversations with our clients over the last few weeks about the successes they’ve seen in 2018 and their plans to make 2019 even better. We are often asked what additional continuous improvement techniques we would recommend that they add in the new year to further challenge the team and maximize the impact of positive change.
One that we recommend to everyone who isn’t already using it is an online idea board. Even organizations that currently use a physical idea board can benefit immensely by taking the concept online. Here are the top 10 reasons we’re so confident that a digital idea board is the right way to go.
1. It is accessible, anytime from anywhere
When you implement an online idea board, you take all of the friction out of submitting or working on opportunities for improvement. People who spend time working away from the office can participate as if they were sitting right there. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my best ideas hit me when I’m driving home from work or singing in the shower. With an online idea board your team doesn’t have to remember to submit the thought the next time they are in the office, they can do it right away. The best digital boards even have mobile applications to make it even easier.
Dec 14, 2018 8:01:00 AM
The A3 problem-solving methodology was first used by Toyota in the 1960s and later embraced by proponents of Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, Lean, and other systematic approaches to continuous improvement. “A3” references a European paper size that is about the same size as an American 11-inch by 17-inch tabloid-sized paper. Using the A3 method, teams create a one-page improvement project report. By limiting the report to one page, teams are forced to be concise and thoughtful about including only relevant information. This makes the report easy to digest.
Because our solution supports the A3 technique, we are often asked for tips on how to deploy it. Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind.
Oct 10, 2018 8:14:00 AM
Standard Work is a brilliantly simple concept. The current best practice for a process or activity is defined and then improved upon when opportunities arise.
Unfortunately, it is a little trickier than it sounds.
We work with organizations every day that are implementing a variety of improvement techniques, including Standard Work. We’ve seen it executed perfectly, but we’ve also seen a multitude of ways it can go wrong.
Here are some of the most common mistakes we see managers make when it comes to Standard Work.
Topics: Improvement Methodology
Aug 31, 2018 11:00:00 AM
We’re in the lucky position to have the opportunity to chat with leaders who are dedicated to organizational and employee performance improvement on a regular basis. Of course, we spend much time talking about improvement management technology, but we also like to get into the day-to-day tactical techniques that help our clients achieve their goals. We’re delighted to share some of the ones they love the most.
Topics: Improvement Methodology
Jul 5, 2018 8:11:00 AM
In his book, Standardized Work with TWI: Eliminating Human Errors in Production and Service Processes, Bartosz Misiurek writes, “Standard work is a process where you describe the best way of performing a given operation, improve this way, and train operators on it. As simple as it is to summarize, it is not as easy as it seems to execute.”
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why even though most leaders agree that process standardization is essential for producing quality, predictable results, when you pull back the covers, many organizations do not have standard work documented at all or have poor processes in place for keeping it accurate and up to date. That’s a shame because, without a solid foundation upon which to build and measure, improvement is elusive. We work with companies every day that have been through the process of implementing and socializing standard work. This post contains the best advice for standard work documentation that provides substantial value.