Tag Archives: improvement project decisions

Improvement Project Success Predictor

improvement tools

Our previous post focused on defining and scoping an improvement project prior to launch. Another useful pre-launch tool, which was created by our consulting team, is a “success predictor.”

The “success predictor” distills a century or two of collective experience with what characteristics are most necessary for an improvement project’s success – in other words, it can help to prioritize options and increase the likelihood of working on the right things.

The following eleven factors can predict with a fair degree of accuracy how likely a project is to succeed:

  1. The potential benefit of the project to the organization is clear, substantial and quantifiable. (10 = very clear, quantifiable, substantial)
  2. The problem to be solved is clearly defined and quantifiable, and the project scope is focused and well-defined. (10 = very clear, focused, and well-defined)
  3. The project has top management’s commitment and support (resources, sponsorship and follow-up); no influential person is actively opposed to the project. (10 = very strong support)
  4. The sponsor and team leader are clear about each one’s role and partner effectively to ensure the success of the project. (10 = very clear)
  5. The team leader and key resources are devoting enough of their time to the project to complete it very quickly. (10= full time)
  6. The team is staffed and led by the right people for the job, and they are determined and capable to quickly achieve results. (10 = very determined and capable)
  7. Meaningful and accurate facts and data about the process are available. (10 = very available)
  8. The process to be improved is repeated frequently enough to efficiently study variation in the current process and to and test and measure improvements. Hourly? Monthly? Annually? (10 = very frequently).
  9. The processes to be improved are within the team’s span of control. (10 = under control).
  10. The expected timeframe for completion of the project or for achieving concrete and measurable milestones. (10 = 4-8 weeks to completion or measurable milestone)
  11. The processes are stable, that is not undergoing very recent or imminent major change (10 = very stable).

Quantifying Waste: “If a Tree Falls…”

quantifyWe’re all familiar with Irish philosopher George Berkeley’s quote, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  While we’re all certain that there is, in fact, a sound, can we really know for sure?

Well a similar concept can apply to the critically-important step of quantifying waste, that being “If we haven’t quantified an opportunity for improvement, can we really be sure it’s the best choice of what to work on?”

At least 50% of improvement is working on the right things. Organizations that are able to engage people in making good, fact-based decisions about what to work on and then execute with laser focus reap huge gains. That means that we must identify and act upon the opportunities for improvement that will potentially yield the greatest results.

Quantifying the waste does three things for you. First, it helps you distinguish between the big-hitters and the nice-to-have improvements so you focus on the most important opportunities first.

Second, it makes the organization aware of the cost of a delay in tackling a ‘big-hitter’. If a problem is wasting $5 million a year, every week of delay is wasting nearly $100,000, so the organization wants to make sure  nothing slows this improvement effort.

And third, quantifying the waste enables you to have more meaningful discussions with other parts of the organization whose support you need to change the processes that cause the waste.