Monday, January 26, 2009

Deas on The Need for Continuous Improvement

Stephen Deas of Quality Minds, Inc. A Human Capital Development & Process Improvement Firm on the Need for Continuous Improvement

Now More than Ever-The Need for Continuous Improvement of Business Processes

The wheel of progress is turning slow right now. It will increase speed in time but now the country is taking a collective breath to understand what to do next.

Take this opportunity to prepare your organization for the eventual prosperity.

Here are some suggestions

(Some you already know or do but it does not hurt to be reminded):

1. Be sure you have good indicators in place to measure the health of the organization. At a minimum, cover safety, quality, cost, and delivery with focus on the five areas of processes. (see SIPOC diagram below)

2. Management must meet frequently and without fail to review the indicators and to discuss actions for continuous improvement. Be clear on who chairs the meeting. Take minutes and follow up on all actions.

3. Hold continuous improvement events. Sometimes called Lean or Kaizen events, they are 3 to 4 day activities where a team of employees works to improve a process or solve a problem. There must be a facilitator who is part teacher and leader for the team. The opportunities for improvement should have high probabilities of success. Let's call them "low hanging fruit."

4. Increase the frequency of internal audits. I suggest doing process audits instead of system audits. Conducting a process audit is not very difficult. First document the process with a SIPOC diagram. (Supplier/Inputs/Process/Output/Customers). Then take the diagram and audit real practice to the five areas. For example, how is the output performing? Does it consistently meet the customer's requirements? If it doesn't, what actions are taken? Is the customer satisfied? Do you receive feedback from the customer? Is the feedback positive? If not, what actions are being taken?

Stephen Deas
Owner, Quality Minds, Inc. LLC-A Human Capital Development and Process Improvement Firm

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