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How to get started with continuous improvement

Recent posts

Nail the number one improvement project

Over the past few weeks I have intervened in my client's continuous improvement programmes . I did this for one good reason: They weren't getting results. They caught the improvement bug, like so many organisations do. They got caught in the trap of wanting to change everything now! As I said, this happens to most of us from time to time. You start with some small improvements and you then identify more improvements you could get your teeth into. The next thing you know, you are trying to run ten improvement projects as well as deliver your day job. I know from bitter experience that this usually leads to having lots of loose ends rather than tangible increases in performance. So, what can you do about this? I know that with careful experimenting and resource management, you could find your sweet spot and figure out how many projects you can handle at once. Or, you can take the quick route and pare back your list until you have one priority. The one project that will give you t

A sure fire method to keep your team on track

When I start working with a new consulting client I'm often asked how to keep a team on track to deliver the results the business needs. Without fail, my first response is " Organise a sunrise meeting " If you don't have one of these in your business, I'd consider implementing one. What's a sunrise meeting? In short, a sunrise meeting is a process driven meeting. You split up your business process into a series of checkpoints. Each checkpoint has an owner. Each checkpoint has a question that provides a yes/no answer. The agenda is short and there isn't any AOB (Any Other Business). Actions are agreed swiftly if the answer is the wrong one. A quick note on questions It makes like easier if you write the questions so that every question should end with a yes. For example: Did all of yesterday's material order arrive on time - yes! Are there any outstanding material orders from yesterday - no... When they are all set to 'yes', it is easier to carr

Are routines for your staff considered childish?

One of the best management tools I use with my clients is a routine. Interestingly, when it comes time to implement, people sometimes wrinkle their nose... "Would a routine make sense?"      "Yes" "When can we implement it?"      "Oh, you mean for me?" Some people think of a routine as being something you give to a child. The reason we do this, however, is because they work. They save using our memory. They allow us to spend our thinking time on important things. It frees up our minds, so we don't have to 'remember to remember'. Small tasks get done more frequently, preventing crises. New staff members get inducted faster and become productive quicker, because they have something to work with. There are lots of reasons why we should define formal routines and put them into practice. But, what if you (or your team) feel that they are childish? I guess it depends if you want a tried and tested way to get results for your business. This

Do you get the improvements you ask for?

A few years ago I wrote a book called What Does Good Look Like? I was fed up with seeing businesses fail to move ahead with their improvement goals. They were quick to criticise their staff and slow to explain precisely what they wanted to experience. This book is an antidote to that situation. You can see the introductory video here: If this situation rings a bell with you, you can purchase a copy of the book here: Amazon Apple Books Kobo 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? ' .

Three fast tips to get CI results faster

I was talking to a very frustrated owner earlier this week. They needed to make improvements fast but were getting nowhere. I gave them the following six pointers: Be brutally honest about what needs to improve. Prioritise the improvements, so you get the best results for the least effort. Select the #1 item only. Chop the improvement up into really small, manageable, tasks. Talk about the improvement tasks everyday. Keep going until you get results. Go back to point 2 and repeat (or 1, if you are at the end of the list!). It doesn't have to be any more difficult than this. Point 1 is essential so that you improve things that matter . Point 2 is to get you the greatest returns faster . Point 3 avoids procrastination and builds momentum. Point 4 is critical for keeping the team focused on making change happen. Point 5 makes sure you don't stop prematurely. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the change process, try this simple approach. Giles Avoid repeated business mistakes - av

Do you look like you carry out continuous improvement?

This might sound like a stupid question, but do you? How would you tell? Here are some clues, see how many you can recognise: You have a team the spends part of their time working on continuous improvement projects . You have a clear list of continuous improvement projects. You have a priority on said list of projects. People in your business talk about improvement projects on a regular basis. They talk about continuous improvement without prompting! New ideas are captured systematically. New ideas are generated through both formal business activities and informally through suggestions from the team. Progress would be visible. Data from business key performance indicators generate new opportunities for improvement. You celebrate, and promote, the successes from your improvements. This list isn't exhaustive, of course. But, what this list should do is help let you know if you are a business that looks and feels like you embrace continuous improvement. If you aren't doing at leas