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  • Writer's pictureAlessandro Lasi

Do Dimensions Count? (when it comes to the sources for improvement initiatives)


Do dimensions count? What is the right cocktail between Tactical and Strategic initiatives? And how about the sources for Continuous Improvement activities?


FIRST…BUILD THE MUSCLE!

The more Companies I get in touch with, the more of them I found being on their "Build the Muscles" early steps on their Continuous Improvement Journey.


It's common (though, not optimal) having few, scattered pockets of excellence, where processes are optimized…or...should I say sub-optimized? Yes, this is the risk of lacking a clear CI Strategy, or in other words, not having your CI efforts aligned to strategic directions.



DIMENSIONS COUNT! TOP DOWN vs. BOTTOM UP

No, it's not a misleading title. Which dimensions should you look at for possible CI inputs?


Strategy: Voice of Business (Top Down dimension)
  • CI efforts are aligned to Company strategy (has your Company one?)

  • Focus needs to ensure buy-in and WIIFM ("What's in it for me?") for people involved

  • Often cross-functional, complex initiatives by nature!

  • Number of these initiative is usually limited

Examples:

Strategic Projects, High-Level Workshops or Value Stream Maps triggered from Strategy Deployment. Or opportunities/gaps from Maturity Assessments, Audits or Strategic KPIs reviews.


These can all trigger further tactical Kaizens, Workshops, Point Kaizens, Projects, directly aligned to Strategy!


Strategy: Voice of Process, Voice of People! (Bottom-up dimension)
  • Tactical initiatives (e.g. Kaizens, Point Kaizens, Tactical Workshops)

  • Rarely needle movers vs overall picture, could be sub-optimal (often not cross-functional)

  • Often less complex, and bigger in numbers vs. Strategical initiatives

  • Good to create momentum, traction, trust and interest to break initial skepticism

TIP (For those ones in their "Build the muscle phase"): If you're early on your Improvement path, and haven't created yet 'an army' of Change Agents on the field (training + transferring the ability to facilitate kaizens and improvement workshops) you may pay attention not get stuck with too many opportunistic, tactical initiatives in your portfolio (as they may be not 100% aligned with strategy).


I still remember when, more than a decade ago, I facilitated SMED kaizen, reduced by 30% Set up times, just to discover the Company had planned to divest that line in 6 months! Guess what?


Examples:

Gemba Walks observations, or recurrent/unsolved issues which need escalation (e.g. think of your Daily Management / SQDIPE review cycles; by the way, are you using Pareto's there?). These usually trigger projects, Improvement Workshops or Kaizens. Also, are you really listening to your people on the Gemba? Or ideas from Suggestion Boxes, triggering Point Kaizens?


70 / 30: MY FAVOURITE COCKTAIL FOR CI LEADERS

Try to balance out your own improvement portfolio between Strategic and Tactical / Opportunistic initiatives. My favorite balance is in the range of 70% Strategical vs 30% Tactical.

However, the overall company maturity plays a role: opportunistic events may create quick wins, to generate interest and lower initial barriers and skepticism.


OPPS… ARE WE MISSING ANYTHING?

What about the Horizontal dimension?

Share and reapply best practices (Yokoten) are among the most outspoken yet overlooked processes. And you're probably too familiar with the "Reinvent the Wheel" story.


Her Majesty, the Customer

Have you got an NPS Program? Here's your gold mine, prime quality improvement: Voice of Customer. Start from Customers feedbacks, bridge those gaps or tap into those opportunities, and close the loop with Customers.


Want to know more about NPS? Stay tuned for the following articles; in the meantime, check more HERE.


"Best improvement efforts are originated from outside the Company" J. Welch.


Warranties and Customer Claims fall under this same umbrella.

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