For Continuous Improvement to be effective and sustainable, it requires a systems approach involving the entire organization. Management should guide the organization in four fundamental areas to ensure success: 1. Purpose – maximizing customer value 2. Process – continually improving speed and defects for factory and office 3. People – involving people in improving the process, providing knowledge and tools 4. Sustainable culture – encouraging change, communicating success and results The purpose of Continuous Improvement is to maximize customer value, by understanding and solving the customer’s needs and problems. Watch this clip from Lean expert Jim Womack: "It’s about solving customer problems with fewer resources, solving more customer problems, growing the business …" — Jim Womack. But, how can we know our customer’s needs and problems? One approach is to track customer complaints and dissatisfaction. Although this approach may give a short term impact, the absence of complaints or problems does not necessarily mean the customer is satisfied. Another shortcoming of this approach is that it is reactive and action is not taken until after the problems occur. To understand the customer’s true needs and wants, it is important to proactively listen, identify alternatives, implement solutions and receive feedback on
I often wonder: Why does Continuous Improvement work in some organizations and not in others? I think the difference must be the organization’s culture and acceptance to change. Management is crucial in changing and maintaining culture. At its best management encourages change, and at its worst resists or blocks change. Here are some of the change-resisting cliché responses we at MAGNET sometimes hear: That won’t work here. We tried that before, but it didn’t work. The initial results were impressive, but were not sustainable. Here’s the kind of response that tells us a project is going to be successful: "Management encourages change and ongoing results." A systems approach For Continuous Improvement to be effective and sustainable, it requires a systems approach involving the entire organization. Management should guide the organization in four fundamental areas, to ensure success: Purpose – maximizing customer value; Process – continually improving speed and defects for factory and office; People – involving people in improving the process, providing knowledge and tools; and Sustainable culture – encouraging change, communicating success and results. Although knowledge and tools are important to implementation and results, they are not sufficient to ensure sustainability. Many organizations, hungry for quick fixes, focus heavily
In a February 1 story carried by MSNBC.com, the Associated Press used a spectacular image of workers handling an immense piece of forged steel at Cleveland-based SIFCO Industries to illustrate the rebound in the country’s manufacturing sector. Check it out: Despite China’s might, U.S. factories maintain edge, by Paul Wiseman, AP via MSNBC.com, February 1, 2011. SIFCO Forge Group, a division of SIFCO Industries, is a specialized provider of forged components for aircraft, industrial gas turbines, nuclear, marine and petrochemical industries world-wide. In 2007, MAGNET consultants helped SIFCO Forge Group create its SMART continuous improvement initiative. Read our latest MAGNET Success Story to find out how SIFCO increased sales by $6.5 million in just the first year of its ongoing program.