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Do you look like you carry out continuous improvement?

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Be accurate with your requests; be effective

I had to raise a support ticket on behalf of a consulting client today. I typed in the issue that was being faced. My client seemed happy. Then, I carried on typing and put in what I wanted from the person at the other end. I didn't tell them how to do their job but I told them the result I was seeking. "Why are you telling them that?" my client asked. "I want them to give me what I want" I replied. "We don't normally do that" I was informed. "How does that work out for you?" I enquired. Blank look. The IT support company phoned us, surprised at the ticket they received. "That's the best ticket we've had in ages" they gushed. Long story short, the IT improvement was made shortly thereafter, with no further changes required. It was only a small thing, to add the extra couple of details, but it made big difference to the outcome. This is the precise reason that I wrote the book What Does Good Look Like? I saw the same issu

The Reverse Fishbone

My latest book has just been released. It's called The Reverse Fishbone and looks at how we can get the most out the fishbone analysis tool when we use it for goal setting. It's a great way to engage your team with improvement objectives and is superb when defining the winning recipe for your business. The book is free on the Kindle platform from today until Sunday. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and embracing Kaizen. Giles is also the author of Effective Root Cause Analysis and ' What Does Good Look Like? ' .

Find an improvement opportunity, learn from the opportunity

Last weekend I visited a local visitor attraction. The time was approximately 2pm and I was greeted by a sign that read: Last admission 2:15pm; car park closes 3:00pm. If this was the case, I wasn't going to have much of a visit. When the I reached the top of the queue and met the car park attendant, I asked for confirmation of the closing time. Apparently it was 5:00pm. From a little more discussion, it turned out that the sign was for an event the previous weekend, where they had shortened the opening hours. I jokingly offered to remove the sign, which was politely refused. When I left, the sign was still there. So, apart from the question about how many people didn't bother to find out if the site was open longer, what is the take away from this little story? Why I wrote Effective Root Cause Analysis At every level in the organisation it is possible to take responsibility. I see all too often people passing responsibility on. This can happen up and down the chain of command.

Persist at an improvement opportunity until you are victorious

When you start generating improvement opportunities, it can be tempting to flit between activities. For many people, the starting of continuous improvement activities is exciting. Planning out improvements, thinking about what could be. This can be motivating and, for some people, more interesting than doing the work to deliver the improvement. During the delivery of the improvement there will undoubtedly be: Frustration Learning Friction Experimentation Bouts of looking foolish Backtracking Winning I see too many organisations that dabble with improvements. Great ideas, poor execution. Persisting with an improvement, until it is done, is a strategy that most of us can benefit from. After all, if you don't deliver the improvement, you won't get the results. If you find that you have lots of loose ends in your business, then I recommend you reflect on this post and decide how you want to do things differently going forward. If you want some additional strategies to help you del

Using stupid questions for CI idea generation

You know that phrase about there being no such thing as a stupid question... Well, do you have a collection of these 'stupid questions' in your business that you use? What do I mean when I say 'use'? Some of the stupid questions we have heard in our business can also be perfect to launch continuous improvement thinking from. What are the questions you have in your business that your team have learned not to ask anymore? Here are some I have heard recently, in hushed conversations... How can we achieve double our current profit margins? Why do we have to do all of these steps in our process? What happens if we embrace our mistakes? Why don't we get rid of our bad customers? How do we deliver our products in half the time? I think all of those questions could be used to stimulate some interesting conversations... if you can get past the look of incredulity on your colleagues faces. What stupid questions could you ask in your business, to provoke some alternative ideas

Do you teach your team to 'fish'?

When you are leading continuous improvement projects , it can sometimes feel lonely if you seem to be the only one outputting ideas and options. Talking to yourself... that's how it can feel. A really good strategy, to get your team involved, is to share some building blocks with them. Instead of feeling like you need to provide a working solution, teach your team to 'fish'. Can you remember that phrase? “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” We can change it to something like this: "Give a team a solution and they'll continue to expect you to produce all the solutions; teach a team building blocks of continuous improvement and you can unleash them on all your future challenges." I might be taking some liberties here, but I think you get the gist of what I am trying to say. There is a trade off with doing continuous improvement and teaching ideas, but getting this balance (between learning and impl