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Are you lost with your continuous improvements? It might be time for a master list.

Once you get the ball rolling with continuous improvement projects it can be quite astounding as to how many other improvement opportunities come out of the woodwork. However, when you get 'too many' managing them can become difficult. If you face this issue then it might be time to have a master list.

Introducing the master list
A master list is a simple summary of the main improvements that are planned. It doesn't contain the action steps, it is just an ordered list of the work that you intend to carry out. The point of the list is to provide a high level focus of what is going on. By having this you can then see the wood for the trees (so to speak) and dedicate your efforts on the right things, rather than feeling lost and making no progress.
Discover more practical improvement strategies

Having a list like this can aid your prioritisation and delegation of projects. Once you pull yourself out of the detail of improvement, even just for a short while, you can make sense of how the improvements can be delivered within your normal work patterns. You can ensure that your team are working on the right tasks at the right time and in a way that means the goals are achieved.

Reporting becomes easier too. A master list can be used as the basis for any ongoing reporting about the improvement activity that is taking place in the business. Whether you choose to use the RAG (Red, Amber and Green) approach to visually indicate progress, add a completion bar (percentage of actions completed, for example) this simple tool can help you with throttling progress.

Bringing back the focus
If you are feeling lost with your improvement activities then this approach can bring some welcomed focus back to what you are doing. I used the same approach just the other day with one of my clients to help them regain focus on one of their large change projects.

The project itself had numerous sub-projects, but the whole lot had gotten lost in the mix of chasing progress, normal day-to-day tasks and new business demands. We reviewed the objectives of the project and isolated the high level tasks (in this case it was the re-identification of the key sub-projects). This list was then used as the discussion piece for agreeing actions on how to accelerate certain parts of the overall project. This approach brings back focus.

Interestingly, you will probably recognise this approach in other areas of your business (look at the standard meeting agendas your business uses, and the items that it contains), but we don't apply the same principles generally.

Do you apply general improvement principles to your business?
Continuous improvement seems to attract a lot of these failings; good principles don't transfer into the process of managing change. If you find yourself nodding with this statement then I invite you to test drive my Making It Happen programme. I have distilled the tools, methods and strategies that I use with my clients to ensure that change takes place and I have made it available online. You can find out more about the programme (available as an email course, or an immediate download) by visiting here.

But, for now, I invite you to create your own master list if you don't have one already. This approach helps me, and my clients, to juggle the wide range of deliverables that are expected by their business.


All the best,

Giles



Get your improvement projects moving with 'Making It Happen'

If you want some tools and techniques to help your improvement projects come to life then check out my continuous improvement toolkit - Making It Happen.

The toolkit includes tried and tested strategies and methods that I use with my clients to help them achieve the results they needed in their businesses.

Just knowing the improvement methods is not always enough, often it is the strategies that make the methods work that yield the results.

To learn more about the toolkit, and what it covers, click here.

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Want more time for your projects? Try the 'Hour of Pain'!

Do you find your day being broken up by interruptions, stopping you from getting on with your work?

Continuous improvement projects often fall foul of this. The day can become so inefficient through the constant stopping and starting that we only just seem to have enough time to get the 'day job' completed.

I was in a meeting last week where this same issue cropped up. It also cropped up today. It's nothing new, but it is still a pain in the rear!

So, let me share with you an approach that has worked for my clients - the 'Hour of Pain!'.

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? …

Free Continuous Improvement Guide

I have recently published a new free guide, with the title:
Six Quick Tips to Help Continuous Improvement Deliver Results Faster In the guide I share how to:
Use the continuous improvement cycle properly.Get projects moving, if they are slow to start or have stalled.Identify the 'biggest bang for your buck' when reviewing opportunities.Determine the level of change you need to achieve through your improvements.Flip staff grumbles and concerns into positive improvement actions.Increase the overall rate of progress on your projects. All of the tips are highly practical and are no-cost strategies.
To get your copy, just click on the button below and access the guide in just a few moments from now.



Enjoy reading,

Giles
About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous i…