When it comes to Continuous Process Improvement, action is what it’s all about. It matters not a bit what training you provide, slogans you use, or posters you post if you do not promptly move into action to get things done, measured, and stabilized so the solution sticks.
‘Quick Wins’ is a powerful tool for moving teams into action.
But it is more easily said than done.
What Is A ‘Quick Win’?
The key elements are right there in those two words: it’s got to be quick and it’s got to be successful. 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 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.
Many Quick Wins do not require a formal team; often 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.
Why Do They Matter?
According to John Kotter, author of Leading Change and The Heart of Change, creating Quick Wins builds momentum, defuses cynics, enlightens pessimists, and energizes people.
In addition, and as depicted in the image above, when involved in any type of improvement or change initiative, education, promptly followed by action, yields motivation, and success inspires success. Theoretical opportunities and methodologies are meaningless until a person starts to see the possibilities through real-life hands-on process improvement.
So a Quick Win is a shot of adrenalin for a Continuous Improvement culture. The people involved get a great deal of satisfaction from making the work more effective, more efficient, or lower cost. Their effort pays off, and pays off quickly.
Plus, they are more inclined to look for another such improvement. The people who see or hear about the Quick Win are often inspired to begin looking for their own Quick Wins as well!
Ultimately, the motivational value of a Quick Win makes the return on the effort even higher.