One of Bill Conway’s favorite sayings has always been, “The most important business decision people make every day, is deciding what to work on.”
In fact, we’ve found that half of Continuous Improvement involves working on the right things!
Once people know what to work on, there are ten critical questions to consider, the answers to which will lead the way toward building a high-performance culture of continuous improvement:
- What processes should we use to identify the best opportunities for improvement?
- How will we prioritize the opportunities?
- How can we ensure or increase alignment?
- How will we identify what ‘could or should be’ if everything were right?
- What specific improvement goals shall we set?
- How can we involve the people closest to the work?
- What tools will we use to find fundamental solutions?
- How will we measure progress?
- How will we recognize and communicate progress and achievement?
- What is our follow-up system to assure that the processes, once fixed, stay fixed?
When involved in continuous improvement, there are a number of useful and necessary tools that one might use.
Ultimately, persistent problems cannot be solved by repeatedly using the same knowledge and insights; solutions require the innovative use of multiple problem-solving tools to examine current reality from a variety of different angles. Here are 10 tools you might consider using:
- Pareto Charts to explore ideas about possible causes
- Process Mapping to spot and quantify the waste and trace it to the primary cause
- Cause and Effect Diagramming to stretch beyond initial ideas about possible root causes
- Histograms to provide new insights into the dynamics of process performance
- Run Charts to understand current process performance and distinguish between random variation and special causes
- Scatter Diagrams to clarify the importance of possible causal factors on results measurements
- Affinity Diagrams to find breakthrough ideas and natural relationships among the data
- Priority Matrices to consider alternatives and identify the right things to work on
- Interrelationship Digraphs to visually demonstrate the relationship among factors—causal factors (drivers) vs. symptoms so that you get the most leverage on interventions
- A dependable method of analyzing the data as outlined in recent posts