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Everything Continuous Improvement

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A Quick Guide to the Basic Ideas of Lean Manufacturing

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jan 17, 2022 10:25:38 PM

Lean manufacturing is a process improvement methodology that started in the Japanese automotive manufacturing sector after World War II. Lean thinking aims to improve quality, speed production, and reduce costs by eliminating waste with continuous improvement driven by employees. Although the ideas were initially deployed in factories, the fundamental concepts apply to businesses of every sort. Today, Lean methods are used in hospitals, universities, construction, software development, and many other organizations.

A similar, data-driven approach to business is Six Sigma. It improves efficiencies and quality assurance based on reducing defects through process control and measurement. When the two methods are used together, the approach is called Lean Six Sigma. In any case, the bottom line is that many organizations benefit from a structured approach to continuous improvement. Many techniques, tools, and technologies support the journey to achieving an organization's short and long-term strategic goals.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

What is Lean Process Management and How is it Applied?

Posted by Danielle Yoon

Jan 6, 2022 10:16:00 AM

Lean process management is a method for building a company culture that supports continuous improvement. It involves a long-term approach to daily work that encourages small, incremental changes in process operations to improve quality and efficiency.

The primary objective of Lean process improvement is to create value for the customer by optimizing resources and creating an uninterrupted workflow based on near real-time customer demands. In addition, the approach seeks to minimize or eliminate all waste of resources, effort, and time by documenting each step in a business process and then removing or reducing steps that do not create customer value. The concept of Lean is rooted in manufacturing, but it has been adapted to fit almost every industry.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

Lean Banking: Managed Improvement in Financial Services

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Dec 20, 2021 12:36:15 PM

We often get questions about whether the Lean process improvement methodology can be applied in the financial services industry. Because of its manufacturing roots, many people assume that it doesn't apply to banking or other services-oriented sectors. However, because banking is very process-intensive, the Lean continuous improvement approach can generate significant operational improvement and waste reduction. That's why many financial institution organizations have implemented Lean in one form or another.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process

Three Steps to Applying the A3 Problem-Solving Methodology

Posted by Kade Jansson

Dec 14, 2021 1:04:41 PM

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 process, 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 needed to solve problems. 

Because our solution supports the A3 technique, and problem-solving and continuous improvement go hand in hand, we are often asked for tips on how to deploy it. Here are three steps to success.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

9 Easy to Deploy Continuous Quality Improvement Tools

Posted by Danielle Yoon

Nov 24, 2021 10:30:11 AM

Quality management programs are often associated with large organizations, such as automotive manufacturing or large healthcare systems. These organizations often have teams dedicated to quality control, and they may leverage specific business process methodologies such as Lean or Six Sigma. While that level of sophistication may not be possible or even necessary for your business, there are still many continuous quality improvement tools that are easy to implement and can have an enormous impact on your organization, no matter its size.

Some of the following tools have been borrowed from Total Quality Management, Lean, and the Toyota production system. Still, they can be used independently of these methodologies to accelerate improvement in any organization.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Change Management, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology

How to Build & Grow a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Posted by Matt Banna

Nov 23, 2021 10:16:57 AM

Company culture is what makes one organization different from the next. The team's shared values, goals, and expectations contribute to a thriving organizational culture. Leaders who are dedicated to continuous improvement make it the cornerstone of their organization's culture.

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Topics: Leadership, Improvement Culture, Improvement Process

How to Effectively Define Your Six Sigma Project Scope

Posted by Clint Corley

Sep 21, 2021 11:09:50 AM

Lean Six Sigma is a business optimization methodology that combines two popular continuous improvement methods, Lean and Six Sigma. These well-proven approaches give organizations a structured path to reaching their strategic goals quickly and profitably.  

While the driving force behind Lean Six Sigma is daily incremental improvement, implemented by employees at every level of the organization, it often involves discrete projects targeted at specific problems or goals. Therefore, defining the scope of each project is critical for both project success and ongoing measurement of the results.  

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Topics: Six Sigma, Improvement Process, DMAIC

32 Business Process Improvement Examples to Guide Your Efforts

Posted by Matt Banna

Aug 17, 2021 10:19:43 AM

One of the biggest challenges we hear from organizations that are new to structured business process improvement is that it is hard to articulate for employees what constitutes an opportunity for improvement. Usually, there are some low-hanging-fruit ideas that people jump on right away, but once those are cleared away, it can be difficult to spot flaws in processes, especially ones that you operate every day.

An excellent remedy for this problem is giving employees categories of improvement possibilities to consider. By providing a few examples and asking questions, leaders can spark ideas, get people thinking innovatively, and support their improvement cultures.

Once problems are identified, a variety of improvement techniques can be deployed to solve them.

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Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Process

How to Apply the Right Lean Tools for Every Improvement

Posted by Adam Darnell

Aug 12, 2021 12:32:45 PM

Whether or not your organization fully embraces the Lean manufacturing business paradigm or just borrows some of its best practices, the methodology has many valuable tools and techniques. There are so many that it can be challenging to decide which one to use for a given project or problem. There’s no “right” way to apply lean tools to achieve continuous improvement, but there are some situations for which particular techniques are generally well suited. 

We’ve broken down the most valuable tools that can be leveraged to support daily improvement, problem-solving, waste elimination, and strategic planning in this post. Before we get into specific tools, however, it is helpful to understand the common goals of all Lean tools. Each performs one or more of the following functions: 

  • Communicate Information  
  • Define and Share Standards
  • Enforce the Standards
  • Bring Attention to Variation
  • React to Variation 
  • Prevent Variation from Occurring

Lean practitioners deliver maximum value to the customer by eliminating waste and creating processes that produce consistent, predictable results. These Lean management and total quality tools are used to achieve those goals.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process, Lean Software

Use A3 Process Mapping for Root Cause Problem-Solving

Posted by Clint Corley

Aug 5, 2021 9:13:00 AM

Most companies today work to improve their performance continuously. The basis of this improvement is practical problem-solving. Unfortunately, many organizations are not very adept at solving the day-to-day, year-to-year problems that they face. Most are very good at emergency firefighting but not as effective at solving the root causes and ensuring that problems don't recur. 

One company that figured it out is Toyota. Toyota's approach to continuous improvement is among the most studied and copied in the world. Many of the tools and techniques they practice are replicated in organizations of all types and sizes across the globe. One such method is called A3 process mapping. When used with the PDSA improvement cycle, it can significantly impact an organization's improvement efforts and deliver structured change that impacts critical business metrics.

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Topics: Continuous Improvement Software, Improvement Process, Improvement Methodology, Lean Software

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