Eight steps to creating a continuous improvement team

Each member of a continuous improvement team should represent a function or process within the company so everyone is included.

06/22/2017


The continuous improvement team is in place to manage the process and immerse the group in an environment conducive to improving the company's environment and culture. If the following eight-step process is completed effectively, a continuous improvement team will be able to influence company culture in a positive way.

This flow chart shows how the team’s role fits into the overall business transformation process. Courtesy: Ultra Consultants1. Form a continuous improvement team

This team is not a committee with the job of keeping an eye on the process. The continuous improvement team is actively engaged in defining and implementing projects while managing the overall process.

They are immersed in every aspect of the process and may be an active leader or participant in a project. On the other hand, this assignment is not a full-time job.

Team members who are high-powered performers and likely to become future leaders of the company should be among those selected. Clearly stated requirements should be mentioned up front so all team members understand that continuous improvement team membership is a special reward, and will be over and above their normal duties within the company.

Each continuous improvement team member should represent a function or process within the company and be fully empowered to make project-related decisions for their area of responsibility.

An ideal team size is 4 to 6 people. This will allow deep relationships and a solid sense of camaraderie to develop. Keeping the team size in this range will also reduce scheduling challenges for meetings and allow the team to manage internal discussion efficiently.

2. Create the continuous improvement team environment

The team's primary goal is to manage the opportunity-benefit matrix (OBM). The OBM contains all identified opportunities is a prioritized format, including an estimate of the opportunity's impact on the company.

Projects should only be actively addressed after significant discussion among the team members. This discussion should ensure a significant commitment to marshaling the resources necessary for a successful implementation process. It should also mention the availability of said resources so the project can be completed in the allotted time frame.

3. Create a balanced scorecard of performance metrics

This step involves creating a balanced scorecard of performance metrics that will provide immediate feedback on the effectiveness of the implemented projects.

Don't focus on financial metrics only. These can be managed by senior management and likely already exist in the company. The focus for the continuous improvement team can be managed by measuring process cycle time, productivity of a given process (outputs divided by inputs) and inventory reduction.

4. Set up regular meetings

Developing a consistent rhythm is critical to the creation of an environment where the transformation effort becomes part of the organizational culture.

The transformation lead team should meet at least bi-weekly to track the status of active projects. Weekly meetings will be warranted when new projects are launched or when obstacles to success are encountered. Attendance should be required at every meeting.

5. Manage the tasks required to complete projects

This step in the process is when real work begins. Of the many opportunities for improvement within an organization, most—if not all—seem to be worthwhile. However, not all projects have an equal financial impact or can be handled simultaneously.

Managed effectively, projects will be completed successfully and on time. If not, dates slip, frustration ensues and no one is satisfied.

6. Schedule high-impact rapid improvement events

Everyone likes to be a winner! This is true for both organizations and the individuals on a team. Meeting aggressive goals serves to embolden and drive all of us.

Companies have several longer-term efforts in their project portfolios, but should leave the capacity for some short-term wins.

7. Tell a story through high-powered communication

It's easy to get caught up in the journey, but don't forget to tell the rest of the organization what's going on. A monthly newsletter is a good place to start. These can be easily supplemented with social medial blasts for special events.

An effective communication program will educate and energize the entire company. Over time, the communication program will cement the change process solidly into the company culture.

8. Develop a solid relationship with senior management

It is important to keep the boss in the loop. The properly defined continuous improvement program will fit solidly into the company's long range plan and support both near and longer term goals.

A report from the continuous improvement team to the management team should be a fixed agenda item at monthly staff/performance review meetings. This should be supplemented with reports on the performance of team members covering both accomplishments and areas for development.

Finally, involve as many other members of the management team in both the Kaizen blitz events and longer-term projects. This involvement will serve as another means of anchoring the culture change throughout the company.

Benefits of a continuous improvement team

Creating an effective continuous improvement team may seem daunting, but ultimately provides many benefits to company culture. The real payback for all these efforts will come about by driving the long-term changes in culture and behavior the new system will make possible. Making this happen requires the discipline to define and manage projects using the continuous improvement tools such as Six Sigma and Lean.

Gary McGregor, Ultra Consultants. This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants' website. Ultra Consultants is a CFE content partner. Edited by Hannah Cox, content specialist, CFE Media, hcox@cfemedia.com.



The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me