A new world of possibilities
Processes, products and services need improvement – all the time.
Systematic improvement supports your strategy.
Develop “an allergy” against inefficiencies and waste in your organization.
And stay receptive for novelty and change.
Systematic improvement plays an important role in
+ developing and empowering your people
+ letting shine their talent
+ driving engagement.
Systematic improvement also frees up management resources.
Instead of fighting fires, they can be spent on making the organization fit for the future.
A significant share of management time should thus be spent on improvement,
continuously and systematically.
With the work started by Frederic Taylor, Walter Shewhart, William Deming, Joseph Juran and many others and with the emergence after World War II in Japan of what is now known as Lean Management, systematic improvement has grown into well-rounded sets of knowledge and practices. How these are tought has reached a high degree of standardization. Norms are inspired by and available for their application.
The success factors for continuous improvement are so well-understood now that one can almost speak of an „Ana Karenina Principle“ (named after the first two phrases of Tolstoy‘s book):
All successful improvement programs are alike.
All unsuccessful improvement programs fail for their very own reasons.
You can bring to best use in your organization this vast body of knowledge.
There is little need to improvise.
What is of critical importance is
+ choosing the right improvement opportunities
+ assuring people have and take time to address these
+ enabling and empowering them to succeed and
+ removing roadblocks for these improvement teams.
Months of stumbling around can thus be turned into days of focused work.
At the same time, the last two decades have brought along significant novelties:
+ The omni-presence and fast availability of massive amounts of data
+ New powerful analytical and other digital methods and
+ Previously unthinkable technologies.
Together with “Business Excellence”, these changes open up „Alice‘s wardrobe“ to a whole new world of possibilities. Furthermore, better ways of
+ organizing teams
+ making available knowledge and capabilities
can be used to significantly accelerate improvement work.
Furthermore, the more operational teams are empowered,
the more fluid becomes the border between operations and improvement. This has important implications on how the two can be managed in one coherent “operating system”:
+ decision-making and
+ entrepreneurial thinking
become important differentiators – not only at the upper levels of an organization.
The world of systematic improvement sees a significant boost to its learning curve.
People and systematic methods play a crucial role
when it comes to exploting these opportunities.
Starting with Henry Ford‘s 8D methodology and Deming‘s PDCA-cycle,
a panoply of frameworks have emerged for systematic improvement, such as
+ The Theory of Constraints
and many others.
Making time for improvement has a high return on investment
Enabling and empowering the organization
to reap these benefits does take time.
Yet, it is time well-spent.
Given a few basic numbers,
it is perfectly possible to estimate the benefits
an investment in systematic continuous improvement
can create in your organization.
The benefits of systematic improvement far exceed financial returns. Improvement
+ drives mature operations
+ frees up resources for more improvement and
+ allows for addressing even more valuable improvement.
Mature operations and mature improvement together
make important time for creating the future.
The more volatile the environment and
the more uncertain the future
the more important this will be
for the longterm prospects of your organization.
Build up a coherent operating system
Imagine you have a high-performing operating system
with coherent daily operations and well-rounded systematic improvement.
Applying the “80-20 rule” allows understanding the benefit:
Out of 1000 problems,
800 will be addressed directly by daily management.
There is no need for management to interfere.
Of the 200 remaining problems,
again 160 will be solved with rapid problem solving.
Middle management scopes, staffs and schedule these to be successful.
Out of the remaining 40 problems,
32 are addressed with Lean, Six Sigma or similar projects.
Senior managers sponsor these teams and manage the infrastructure
that allows them to be successful.
Only 8 residual problems will require full management attention.
For many organizations,
such an operating system is more a vision,
seemingly impossible to reach.
To be successful, senior and middle management need to
+ develop a focus on systematic improvement
+ make time in their “leadership standard work”
+ empower and enable their people
+ lead by example.
What matters is doing these things the right way
and to bring together people and methods.
The “operating system” that emerges is hard-to-copy.
It is a differentiating capability that enables your organization
for completely new strategic moves.