Tag Archives: Continuous Improvement Quick Wins

Why “Quick Wins” Are Important to Your CI Effort

When it comes to Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), action is what it’s all about — thus the importance of “Quick Wins,” which require us to promptly move into action to get things done, measured, and stabilized.

A “Quick Win” must be completed in 4 to 6 weeks at most, but many are implemented much faster such as in a “kaizen blitz” where a small group focuses full time on an improvement for a day or two, or half-time for a week.

Because of the speed imperative, if a solution requires a significant capital investment, it is probably not going to be a “Quick Win.” If it requires a large team or cross-functional buy-in, chances are it will be a slow win if it succeeds at all. In fact, many “Quick Wins” do not require a formal team, but rather a natural work team can identify the problem and implement a quick solution. For a solution to become a “Quick Win” it is almost always an improvement that can be completed with the people closest to the work and with the resources close at hand.

Sometimes a “Quick Win” is a high value improvement executed with speed. But even an improvement with small dollar impact can have a great ROI — because the time and expense invested is so low and the organization begins reaping the benefits so quickly.

In addition to making sustainable and potentially-recurring gains in less time, there are a number of related or consequential benefits associated with “Quick Wins” as well. For example, according to John Kotter, author of Leading Change and The Heart of Change,  “Quick Wins” are important because they:

  • build momentum
  • defuse cynics
  • enlighten pessimist
  • energize people

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of “Quick Wins” in Continuous Improvement

time_is_money_800_10875As discussed in our three previous posts, when it comes to Continuous Improvement (CI) time is definitely a factor. Thus Quick Wins can be a powerful means of moving teams into action, and are an indispensable tool for any continuously improving organization!

As we complete our series of posts on the subject, here are five ideas that can help your organization get the most out of Quick Wins.

Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good. Often an organization has a problem for which the perfect technology solution is known — it is just not available, either because of the cost or because it is still under development. Ask “what else?” What are the other ways the problem can be solved? It is often difficult to think of a Plan B, when there is a big, gleaming, perfect, obvious solution that is simply not available now. The temptation is to set aside the problem as something you need to live with — but there may be other solutions not quite as good but that at least capture 50%, 60%, 80% of the benefit that the best solution could provide.

Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time Many of us choose scopes that are way too big. A large scope greatly slows the work and reduces the likelihood of success, making the project into a lumbering giant. Our instincts may tell us if we have a big scope, we will have a big win — but the opposite is more often true. To get good results quickly, we must take a big problem and break it down into bite-sized chunks.

Rely on the People Close to the Work The people closest to the work often have the best ideas about the problem and possible solutions. They live with the problems in the work every day and are a great source of possible “quick fixes.” A Waste Walk is a great way to explore the work and talk to the people close to the work to identify potential targets for improvements or for a “kaizen blitz.”

Keep it Simple The simpler the better. Cross organizational projects move much more slowly as priorities and approvals must be aligned in order to make progress. The fewer people on the team, the simpler it is to get together and get to work on the problem. Start small and simple, execute, and build the skills and motivation to tackle more and more problems.

Enjoy It! A Quick Win is both satisfying and fun! Make sure you celebrate and spread the news. Take measurements, take pictures, take the team to lunch! Then go back and do it again.

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