Organizations that strive for continuous improvement outpace the competition, regardless of the types of products or services they offer. From retail and manufacturing to healthcare and construction, the intensity of effort dedicated to daily positive change in an organization is directly tied to customer satisfaction and financial success.
Sep 11, 2019 2:36:17 PM
Aug 16, 2019 8:59:37 AM
After many years speaking with leaders and managers looking to implement continuous process improvement tools in their organizations, we’ve learned a few things. The first is that every organization is different and what scores a home run for one, may not even get a hit in another. The second is that despite these differences, many of the process improvement tools that have been developed over the last 50 years can be adapted to be useful for organizations of all types and sizes.
This post provides a brief introduction to some of the process improvement tools that our customers have used to reduce costs, improve safety, assure quality, and increase customer satisfaction. For each tool, we've included a link to more detailed information. Many are borrowed from the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, but you don’t have to be using one of them to find value in these techniques.
Jul 10, 2019 7:32:00 AM
When people talk about business process improvement, the conversation can get very far into the weeds quickly. There are several overarching approaches to business management like Six Sigma and Lean, and then there are more acronyms describing tools and techniques then you can shake a stick at. We’re not putting them down. DMAIC, PDSA, 5S, 5G, 5W1H, 4M1D, and all the rest are really effective ways to structure improvement and problem-solving. However, if you are new to the notion of process improvement, we don’t blame you if you find the jargon confusing. We’re probably guilty of getting too technical too quickly in this space from time to time, so today we’re going to keep it simple and ban the industry terms.
You don’t have to be a continuous improvement black belt to begin implementing positive change in your organization. Here are a few process improvement examples that are good starting points.
Topics: Improvement Process
Jul 4, 2019 2:35:56 PM
A while back, we wrote about some continuous quality improvement techniques that we love because they are easy but powerful. One of the most important realizations that people have, when they start to build an organization focused on excellence and constant improvement, is that the path is not complicated. It’s really all about getting the little things right and providing people with a structured way to think about incremental operational change. The original post contained some of our favorite tools. This one has a few more.
Jun 11, 2019 7:42:00 AM
DMAIC is a widely used structured process improvement technique developed at Motorola in the 1980s. It is popular among organizations that use the Lean manufacturing or Six Sigma business methodologies but is also used as a stand-alone continuous improvement tool. It helps teams tackle challenges by finding root causes and applying thoughtful fixes. DMAIC ensures that change is well documented, managed, and successful.
Improvement software is not required to complete a DMAIC process, but there are smart reasons for making it part of your organization’s approach. Technology can help speed up the DMAIC process, it helps to measure the results, and it creates your organization’s repository of knowledge. In fact, software has a role to play during each stage of the DMAIC process. Here’s how it works.
Jun 5, 2019 9:43:57 AM
Dr. Ethan Burris is a Professor of Management and the Chevron Centennial Fellow at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the Director of the Center of Leadership Excellence for the McCombs School. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from Cornell University and has served as a Visiting Scholar at Google and Microsoft. He teaches and consults on topics relating to leadership, managing power and politics, leading groups and teams, and negotiations.
Dr. Burris’ current research focuses on understanding 1) the antecedents and consequences of employees speaking up or staying silent in organizations, 2) leadership behaviors, processes and outcomes, and 3) the effective management of conflict generated by multiple interests and perspectives. In particular, he has investigated how leaders shape employees’ decisions whether to speak up or stay silent and how leaders evaluate those who speak up.
We were pleased to have him join us at our annual user conference in Austin last year. This post is a recap of his presentation; we highly recommend that you watch it to learn more about the science behind which ideas for improvement are more likely to get promoted by managers.
May 31, 2019 7:42:00 AM
Howard Earl Gardner is an American developmental psychologist and the former John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. He has written hundreds of research articles and more than thirty books that have been translated into multiple languages. He is best recognized for his theory of multiple intelligences, which he explained in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He argues that people process information differently, and therefore, there are many ways that people learn and process information.
One type of intelligence that Gardner studied is spatial intelligence, which is the ability to gain understanding from pictures or other visuals. While everyone benefits from a different mix of the more than seven types of intelligence, most people tend to respond to visuals because they offer a concrete way to organize abstract information.
May 24, 2019 8:23:00 AM
We talk a lot about the mechanics of business process improvement and the technology to support it on this blog. Today, we thought we’d share some real-world examples of process improvements that made a difference to critical performance metrics.
They come from a wide array of industries and target vastly different problems. What they have in common is that someone recognized an opportunity for improvement, found the root cause, and implemented a fix.
To top it off, none of these improvements cost a dime.
You probably don’t have these specific challenges, but these business process improvement examples might get you thinking in a new way about the ones you do face.
May 7, 2019 1:30:15 PM
While we are huge fans of standardization and consistency, we understand that each Kaizen event is unique. That’s why we would expect that each event charter has its own nuances that change from one project to the next. However, there are some elements that our clients have found to make the difference between a successful event and one that does not reach the mark.
Before we get into the specifics of what should be included in the charter document, we’d like to add a note about access. You may have the most complete, and well-written Kaizen event charter on the planet, but it is of no use unless everyone who needs access to it can get to it with ease.
Whether you craft it as a document, use an Excel format, or something else, your improvement management platform is the best place for it to live.
Now on to the must-have components.
Apr 19, 2019 7:32:00 AM
We get a lot of questions from leaders about which continuous improvement tools and techniques they should use. Is DMAIC better than PDSA? Should I do Gemba walks or daily huddles? When do I use incremental improvement vs. a Kaizen event? These are all reasonable questions, but the great news is that most continuous improvement tools, including those popular with organizations that use the Lean or Six Sigma methodology, work very well together. In fact, in many cases, they were developed jointly.