The dictionary defines corporate culture as, “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Every organization has a culture whether or not leaders think about it or try to shape it. But smart executives know that culture is a crucial (if not the most important) ingredient for success. Leaders who are dedicated to the practice of continuous quality improvement (CQI) should understand the role that culture plays and actively work to shape it. Here are ten best practices for creating a culture in which CQI can thrive.
May 30, 2018 9:42:19 AM
May 23, 2018 8:11:00 AM
DMAIC is said to be the Six Sigma methodology’s roadmap to improvement. It is one of the core tools of the approach, but organizations also use it as a standalone improvement technique. We have clients in almost every industry from healthcare to construction who have achieved quantifiable impact against core business metrics by using this technique. Here are some of the questions we get asked about it most often.
May 22, 2018 1:35:26 PM
The Kanban technique started in the late 1940’s as Toyota looked to rethink its approach to manufacturing. The object was to reduce waste, improve efficiency and enable what’s come to be known as just-in-time manufacturing. Toyota’s workers displayed colorful Kanban cards to communicate to downstream workers that there was a demand for parts. (Kanban means “visual signal” or “shopkeepers card” in Japanese.) This visual management approach helped teams communicate instantly about what needed to be done and when.
Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the Kanban approach has evolved to be useful for information workers and others in a variety of industries. The most common application is a physical board that shows work that is in the queue, in-progress, and completed. A physical Kanban board works great for small, centrally located teams with a limited number of projects in play at any one time. However, more complex groups which are distributed and organizations that want a centralized view of all improvement work have turned to digital Kanban boards instead. Here are a few benefits of the approach.
Mar 19, 2018 11:22:06 AM
Standard Work is one of the bedrock elements of continuous improvement. In fact, Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System, once said, “Without Standard Work, there is no Kaizen [positive change].”
Unfortunately, we’ve seen many organizations create a Standard Work document, check the box, and move on to business as usual.
This does little to stabilize processes or prepare for the next improvement. In order for Standard Work to be effective, it must be widely shared and actively managed.
Jan 10, 2018 6:51:00 AM
Kaizen events, also known as Rapid Improvement Events, are an effective way to tackle many difficult problems in short order. They can also help improve team cohesion and cross-functional collaboration. But like many other continuous improvement techniques, if they are not executed properly, they can cause more harm than good. We’re in the lucky position to have the opportunity to chat with people from all types of organizations about their improvement work. They’ve shared some lessons learned when it comes to Kaizen events. Here are some of the biggest mistakes.
Ignoring Daily Improvement
Kaizen events are one tool in the improvement toolbox, but not the only one. Continuous improvement requires daily attention. Efforts shouldn’t be limited to special events. In most cases, only a few people are involved in each Kaizen event, but daily improvement should be the responsibility of every person in the organization.
Dec 27, 2017 2:42:25 PM
Many of the continuous improvement tools and techniques that we write about in this blog originated in the manufacturing industry. This makes a lot of sense because mass manufacturing is, by definition, the production of large quantities of standardized products, frequently utilizing assembly line technology. The whole goal is to create large numbers of similar products efficiently. Statistical process control is necessary in order to achieve acceptable quality results at a predictable pace.
However, the application of statistical methods of process control provides a better understanding of the behavior of any operation. This is an essential piece of management information that is required for making smart decisions about process improvements regardless of the type of process. In addition, the use of statistical methods also provides valuable insight to the employees who are working the process.
Fortunately, one does not need a deep understanding of statistical theory or mathematics in order to apply statistical measurements to improve quality and productivity. The approach can be useful to almost any organization, regardless of the industry.
Dec 13, 2017 8:39:00 AM
If you are new to continuous improvement or just interested in trying out a new technique, this guide to DMAIC is for you. We’ll explain each of the steps and talk about why it is such a popular approach.
When most people think about continuous improvement, they are focused on making business processes more efficient with less waste. But don’t forget that improvement itself is a business process. In order to produce lasting positive change, there needs to be a structure and consistent approach to improvement efforts.
DMAIC is a simple, but powerful technique for setting a standard for improvement in a way that is repeatable and effective for many opportunities for improvement.
DMAIC consists of five steps: define, measure, analyze, improve and control. While it is generally associated with the Six Sigma business methodology, it can be used as a standalone improvement technique or alongside other approaches like Lean management and TQM.
Sep 26, 2017 11:41:25 AM
I recently joined a few of my family members on a trip to Disneyland. My 9-year-old niece from Utah was among the group. She’d never been to California before and had never seen a palm tree. She was fascinated by them, but also a little angry. “Why don’t we have trees like this at home?” she asked. I’m no botanist, but I explained to her that different plants grow in different places because they need certain conditions to thrive. The temperature, soil composition, humidity, rainfall, and other factors create the environment that determines what vegetation will take root. That’s why you don’t see cacti in a swamp, or tomatoes in the desert.
Over the years we’ve spent working with organizations interested in positive change, we’ve seen time and time again, that much like palm trees, continuous process improvement (CPI) needs certain conditions to flourish. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on Mother Nature to create a conducive atmosphere. If you are just beginning your CPI journey, or if you are struggling to achieve results, make sure that these crucial prerequisites are in place.
Aug 1, 2017 7:13:00 AM
Organizations that subscribe to the Lean or Six Sigma business methodology, and others that are devoted to continuous improvement, often use a host of visual management tools to achieve consistency and introduce positive change. Kanban, huddle boards, and value stream maps are all very popular and effective. Process control charts are another valuable visual management tool for recognizing and reacting to process variation.
Here are the details about why they are so useful.
Statistical Process Control
It is probably helpful to begin with a definition of process. A process is quite simply anything that gets done. It could be putting gas in your car, filling out a time sheet, delivering source code to QA, or checking in a patient. Each of these activities results in some output. Sometimes it is a product, but often it is a service or a deliverable to the next process. In addition to the result of the process, data is also generated. Statistical process control is the act of using that data to make the process better. The data might be related to timeliness, cost, quality, or quantity.
Jul 10, 2017 11:45:52 AM
It may seem odd for a company that sells process improvement software to declare that not every company is ready to buy it. We do like partnering with new customers, after all. But the thing is, we only want happy customers. And happy customers are organizations that have successful process improvement software rollouts, good adoption of the solution, and measurable impacts on key business metrics as a result.
Even if you choose another solution provider, we think it is important that leaders ask a few difficult questions before going straight to technology to solve their problems.
Obviously, we believe that software is a critical component in any improvement initiative, but it is not the only one.
Here are some questions smart leadership teams ask before starting a process improvement software implementation.