Skip to main content

Visible Continuous Improvement Plans

Years ago I was criticised for having numerous pieces of paper all over a wall in my office. This was when I worked as a Production Manager in a factory failing to hit its output targets*. Apparently it looked a little messy....

I needed to take action to change my factory's situation and one lonely Friday afternoon (when everyone else had gone home) I listed out the changes I needed to make. These formed the mini-projects that were all over my wall.

Production was busy. Frankly it was chaotic and I chose to pin my mini improvement plans to my wall so that they were 'in my face'. Every time I walked into my office there were my plans. I certainly didn't forget about them.

How many times have you crafted a much needed improvement plan but never gotten around to implementing the changes?

There are many strategies we can take to improve how we deliver our projects and the idea of having the plans in bite sized chunks and highly visible is just one.

I used this approach to constantly nibble away at my projects and over a period of a couple of months our performance was transformed. We actually started winning new business on the back of this performance alone.

After the first few mini-projects were implemented I started to buy myself a little bit of time each week. This allowed me to tackle more in-depth issues and the more involved mini-plans. It was certainly an upward spiral.

So, I love technology and I'm a big believer in being neat and organised. I am also a big believer in using the right tools for the right job. In this case a pen, paper and a wall were the right approach for me.

What's the right approach for you?


Giles Johnston
* To read the full story (and get hold of the action points) please click here.

Popular posts from this blog

Where there is a (performance) gap there is a concern

I had a really good day yesterday working with a client's team.

The team has issues. Plenty of issues. Some are managerial issues, some are people issues and some are production issues.

When I first met the team they didn't know what to do with their issues, so I started by helping them to see more issues.

Issues everywhere, they didn't seem very impressed.

And then we captured the issues as 'concerns' into the tried and tested 'concern cause countermeasure' format and followed the process:

Concerns probed for root causes and root causes converted into countermeasures.
Soon they realised that some of their root causes dealt with numerous concerns and they gained momentum.

Yesterday we pulled another one of their processes apart and identified all of the gaps. The gaps became concerns and we fed them back into the process. Now they have a practical action plan (of countermeasures) to upgrade the process in question.

What do you do with your performance gaps? …

Continuous Improvement and the Five Legged Race

Many improvement projects need the buy in of several people before they can progress. Amongst these people there will be some that have a firm view of what needs to happen and are keen to make progress. Some of the people won't be sure and they will need more time. Other people might not be that interested and have other priorities they want to focus on.

None of this is wrong.

It is an observation of mine and one that I see repeat on a regular basis with the businesses that I come into contact with.

But, if we take the principle from the observation we have an interesting improvement strategy (one that I personally use when I get stuck with my client's improvement projects).

You might have worked out the approach from the title of this blog post, but it is analogous to a three-legged race (or four, five, nine...). If someone in the group moves in the wrong direction and / or at the wrong speed then the whole group falls over.


In the example I gave at the start it is no differe…

Do you have time to prepare (in order to become super productive)?

I had a funny conversation a few weeks ago with a team that was complaining about one of their colleagues spending 'ages' preparing their workstation within their factory. I meet a lot of people that spend too long preparing (and effectively procrastinating) so I was intrigued by their comment. It turns out that this individual didn't spend too long but rather his colleagues dived into their work without thinking through what the best way to work was...

The slower to start gentleman did in fact prepare his work area. He was also able to produce a far greater amount of work in the same time period because he had invested in a smarter way of working than his counterparts. The time spent preparing his working area was valuable and not overdone.

This example reminds us of the importance of the second S in 5S (set in order) and how workstation design is critical if we want to maximise the productivity of our teams. Whether this is a physical work area in a factory, the filing s…