No effort is insignificant. By merely making a choice and pursuing an action, you can have an impact. Sure you might fail (at first), you might not be heard (at first), but you, your company, your world, your universe will be different because you took action. You moved forward on a new idea, workflow, product or service offering.
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.
Last weekend we visited Family out of state and attended their Church, it was a very good service. The homily was all about “direction not perfection.” In business we expect the product is manufactured to specifications. We expect it’s delivered on time and it’s handled properly.
A continuous improvement process is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once. Delivery (customer valued) processes are constantly evaluated and improved in the light of their efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility.
Some see CIPs as a meta-process for most management systems such as business process management, quality management, project management, and program management. W. Edwards Deming, a pioneer of the field, saw it as part of the ‘system’ whereby feedback from the process and customer were evaluated against organizational goals.
The fact that it can be called a management process does not mean that it needs to be executed by ‘management’; but rather merely that it makes decisions about the implementation of the delivery process and the design of the delivery process itself.
Some successful implementations use the approach known as Kaizen (the translation of kai (“change”) zen (“good”) is “improvement”). This method became famous by the book of Masaaki Imai “Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.”
“It’s about direction, not perfection,” might be the cheesy catch phrase for continuous improvement.” The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
Like life, real improvements come from:
• many, small changes rather than the radical changes the ideas come from the people doing the work, they are less likely to be radically different, and therefore easier to implement
• mall improvements are less likely to require major capital investment than major process changes
• the ideas come from the talents of the existing workforce.
• all employees should continually be seeking ways to improve their own performance
Real Improvements require a balance of individuals involved cause it their job, their Team and resources to help manage and drive. An unknown secret of Toyota’s success is the dedicated resources of “executive coordinators.” These experienced, seasoned multifunctional managers are assigned to areas, plants or teams depending on the size of the facility and their only job is to make things better.
Upgrading, improving is all part of real improvement. Another key often over looked is the state of the business, the operation needs to be operating within a fairly normal state. In statistical process control we have upper and lower control limits on a control chart. When the process operates inside these limits we call it stable and under control.
These upper and lower limits are also called natural limits. We can tighten the range in which a process operates. Often this tightening, reduction of variation requires process changes, investments.
Years ago, Kaoru Ishikawa pioneered quality management processes in the Kawasaki shipyards, and in the process became one of the founding fathers of modern management. He is credited with the first use of the Ishikawa diagram or the fishbone chart. This tool looks at the 4Ms, man, machine, material and method.
It was first used in the 1940s, and is considered one of the seven basic tools of quality control. It is known as a fishbone diagram because of its shape, similar to the side view of a fish skeleton. Can you name the seven basic tools?
When Alan Mulally took over as CEO of Ford, he told the Team they were going to work on the 4Ps, Product, Performance, People and Process. Very similar to Ishikawa’s 4 Ms.
Remember it’s all about the direction, because none of us will ever be perfect.