Our previous post summarized three of the most common reasons why CI efforts fail. Today’s focus is on how to avoid those pitfalls and increase the likelihood of success.
Generally speaking, in order to ensure on-going success, an organization must make sure that its measurement systems, rewards, recognition, and communication systems support CI. But more than that, one must make sure that management behavior itself supports CI.
Our Partners in Improvement groups identified the following five best practices for making an enterprise-level CI effort more successful:
- Top Management Support: Senior-level leadership must visibly support CI efforts. It’s best if management meets with the teams and individuals regularly for the specific purpose of seeing how the improvement project is going and what can he or she do to support the effort and speed progress.
- Team Training: During our Partners discussions it was agreed that nearly everyone in the company needs some basic training. But team leaders need to be very well trained, so that they can ensure that the team follows the methodology, asks the right questions, gathers the right data, and stays on trac. It was also noted that team leaders should be very carefully chosen.
- Diligent Upfront Work: Project planning, even before the launch, as critical to success. This involves defining the right charter, problem statement, scope, time frame, and team.
- Once an enterprise-level CI plan is launched, the first principle is that nothing succeeds like success. Starting out with carefully selected projects staffed with highly qualified people is a good way to promote that success. Giving the earlier projects careful guidance and support (as referenced in bullet #1 above) is another best practice that increases the likelihood of some early wins. Making “speed to success” a priority should also be part of the plan.
- Communication is the next most important thing. If a team applies the CI methodology to great success but no one hears about it, the goal of making CI a cultural way of doing business will not catch on. In other words, “advertising” is important! Intranet, newsletters, presentations, story boards, discussions at staff meetings and formal recognition programs are all ways to communicate success and make sure that everyone learns from successful experiences.