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Have you set your targets yet?

Continuous improvement can be addictive. Identifying new improvements and making them come to life can be really satisfying, especially when you can see the benefits appear in your Key Performance Indicators.

So, why do some people get lost?

Is it because they have gotten involved with improvement for the sake of improvement and lost sight of why they need / want to improve?

Get clear before you begin

Clarity around what the improvement is meant to deliver, the target needing to be achieved, is vital. If we don't know why we are improving and specifically what needs to be improved any improvement is a good one... except we know that they are not - some give far better benefits for the same amount of effort!

Like the inverse of root cause analysis, it is possible to have many outcomes if you don't control the journey. With root cause analysis you can have many symptoms stemming from one root cause. Root cause analysis works so well because it drives a straight line to the real issue. We want a straight line to our maximum benefits and defining targets well is a way to do this. If we don't do this we might end up somewhere less than optimal.

Your team can get behind a clear target. Engaged teams that voraciously improve the business are brilliant, and something that I encourage. But, periodically, it is worth ensuring that the teams are working on the best activities for the business. Resources should be directed intentionally for the best part and clear targets can help achieve this.

Is it time to pause?

The solution and the plan can be developed once you have a clear target.

I see many businesses that get stuck in with the solution first. They have a tool, or strategy, that they can apply and the target gets created in an emergent fashion.

I would never say don't do this, but if you are feeling a little lost, that your improvements aren't hitting the bigger improvements that your business needs to address, then I urge you to consider setting your targets and pausing your improvement activity for a very short period of time. Don't pause for too long, but enough time to figure out if you are heading towards what you want.

A perfect way to start 2018

And isn't this a great time to look at your targets?

Before your New Year's continuous improvement activities get underway, perhaps this is the perfect time to pause and get your plans in order.

If you have your free membership of the Productivity Boost (you can sign up here, for free) you can use the rolling planning horizons approach to help you get even more of your improvements put into place.

Set your business some clear improvement targets, develop an effective solution and then an efficient plan to implement the changes.

All the best,


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 improvement toolkit.

Discover practical improvement strategies to drive up productivity for both you and your business. Access the free tools section today by clicking here.

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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,

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…