Skip to main content

How to Stop Improvement Projects From Stalling

Have you ever felt the frustration of watching an improvement project stall, fall over and the benefits never being realised?

I’ve seen quite a few projects over the years stalling.  Thankfully I have been able to help get them back on track, allowing my clients to get the results they wanted. Just recently I was involved in another similar project, one that was going off track. This got me thinking about the way I fix this particular problem. This month’s article covers the main steps I follow to get projects back on track.

Step One – Clarify the Objectives

Probably the biggest offender is the lack of clarity around the specifics of the project. Vague objectives lead to confusion. Reducing or confirming the scope of the project, and getting detailed on what you want to experience once the project is completed, can make a big difference. Put it in writing for reference.


Step Two – Clarify the Mechanics / Top Level Plan

How the project will unfold and what will need to happen in what sequence is vital. I’m talking about the phases of the project, or the large chunks of a project. I suppose this would be considered a more strategic review of the project, keeping it at a high level. For example, do you need the data cleansed first, or do you need the report written first? Those kinds of questions are the ones I am referring to. Milestones can then naturally follow on once you have a good feel for how the project needs to happen.

Step Three – Create Mini Projects

It is easy to get lost in big projects, so mini projects can be really useful for two main reasons. Firstly, as long as the mini project fits into the overall scheme of things (see Step Two) then you shouldn’t get lost, you will always have your point of reference. Secondly, most people find small projects less daunting and easier to get started on. They also find them easier to plan out and take ownership of.


Step Four – Check Your Resources and Schedule

Knowing how much time you have available leads on from our last email. Each mini project should be able to be scheduled so that you can comfortably fit your normal day to day working alongside your mini projects. If there are problems with fitting them together, you need to inform the top level plan (see Step Two again). However, and this is another plus point of mini projects, they often tend to be easier to shoe horn into your working week.



Step Five – Link to Daily Routines

To keep your finger on the pulse, you need to find a way of tying in the activity in the mini projects to your working day. If you have a start of day meeting then add in the next milestone as an agenda point. Short mini projects should have a completion date / milestone in the immediate future and this can really help to keep your focus. The overall project may take many more months from now to be completed and daily achievements will get you there.


So, there you are, my five points to getting stalling projects back on track. Use this list and add to it as you wish.

If you are getting fed up with your stalling projects then contact me and we can have an informal chat over the phone to bounce round some ideas about how you can get things moving again.


Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Popular posts from this blog

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and

Where to start with Kaizen, if you just aren't sure

Kaizen is a great word. It is a word that can unleash the potential of both a business and an individual. Kaizen means more than just continuous improvement. It is a word that is linked to: Confidence Growth Exploration Courage Many people I speak to, that are new to improvement projects, aren't sure if they are on the right path when it comes to embracing the spirit of Kaizen. If you are also one of these people then let me share with you a few thoughts that can help you feel at ease about starting and leading change. Start with your concerns A great place to start your improvement life is with anything that isn't right. Getting your concerns out into the open really is the first step for most of us. If you aren't happy with something, raise it. This isn't only a great place to start, but something that you shouldn't give up. Whenever a standard is not being met, or not even defined, get vocal and then do something about it. Start small The intention of Kaizen is

Stimulating Kaizen opportunities - the 'mechanical' way!

I often end up in conversations about how to stimulate Kaizen ideas and opportunities. If you have read my other posts, you will know that I split the improvement journey into two halves. For many people, the initial Kaizen focus is all around fixing things that are wrong / not working properly. Once you get past this point you need something else to focus and motivate you to generate improvement opportunities. The two halves of the Kaizen journey The discussion that I often end up in, is the one around the imagination quandary. People talk to me about not being creative, or not being inspired to come up with improvement ideas. Do you ever feel this way? It seems that there is a popular view that some people are creative and some aren't. Great Kaizen ideas are not just the product of 'creative' people. There are lots of ways that you can generate improvement ideas without having to sit on a mountain top cross legged waiting for inspiration. Finding a 'mechanical' w