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Implementing Continuous Improvement Programs

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Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time, or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.

One of the most widely used tools for continuous improvement is a four-step model—called the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle, also known as Deming Cycle/Shewhart Cycle:

Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan for change.

Do: Implement the change on a small scale.

Check: Use data to analyze the results of the change and determine whether it made a difference.

Act: If the change was successful, implement it on a wider scale and continuously assess your results. If the change did not work, begin the cycle again.

Continuous Improvement Chart Tool Storage Cabinets

This concept is based on the belief that these incremental changes will add up to major improvements over time though tactics, or significant changes all at once, through strategy. Having appropriate workspace with items like industrial cabinets and other tool storage options is a major component of implementing this program. Here are four other factors that are critical to successful continuous improvement:

Manufacturing Leadership That Walks the Walk

How a company’s leadership team supports the initiative is the most commonly cited success factor when the organization follows the continuous improvement process long-term.

It cannot be simple lip service to the program either – these leaders must show the same behaviors that they wish their employees to take. In the end everything depends on this leadership to actively promote and encourage change for it to be successful in the long run.

Without resources – adequate time and resources to support the continuous improvement program’s implementation - then the team tasked with implementing it is essentially performing isolated steps to support it. This clearly will now result in long-term adherence to an improvement program, of any type. In fact, that’s a great question to ask yourself: If this was one of the absolute mission-critical programs to remain in business, are you doing enough right now to support the continuous improvement process at that level? If the answer is no, you need to re-examine your approach, and improve upon it if you want it to succeed and reap its benefits.

Stop Continually Operating in Red-Alert Mode

No individual, team or company can implement change if they don’t have the time or mental capacity to do so. Many times the processes and standards that need the most attention also cause the most problems that need to be addressed continually, meaning that the focus is taken off improving them – the core problems – and simply put towards working with the issues that they cause in the first place.

Industrial Tool Storage CabinetEveryone is continually working harder, but not smarter, the whole goal of the program is the latter of the two. Even worse, many company cultures celebrate and reward managers and employees who put out the most fires, which removes motivation to prevent them in the first place. Having a well-organized environment using LEAN workspace products that allows employees to keep their minds focused on the bigger issues and not constantly on the nuisances the might experience now.

Constant and Forever Emphasis

Point #5 in Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s “14 points of management” states organization’s should “Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.

This staunch, steadfast emphasis on improvement is critical to maintaining and sustaining process improvements in the long term. Changes need to maintain momentum to ensure the changes are not forgotten and don’t grind to a halt through fatigue or resistance.

Those who successfully improve their organizational processes through this program understand this isn’t just a passing fad with leadership, but a long-range practice infused into the fabric of everything that the organization does.

Focus on Long-Term Industrial Improvement Results

Managers are often so concerned with meeting immediate company goals like quarterly or yearly numbers that it becomes very challenging to put a priority on changes that will be make a far biggest impact focused on whether they’re going to meet their monthly or quarterly targets and it can be very difficult to prioritize improvements that will impact far more significantly over the long haul.

Thus continuous improvement programs are as much about mind-set as they are about taking actions. Your organization needs to look at this initiative from the 10,000-foot view, and understand that a quarterly dip in performance and overall numbers can be tolerated if it puts the company on far better footing both financially and in relation to its delivery of the highest quality products and services as possible.

The products we sell here at ShopFlow Solutions are all designed to make your workplace the most efficient and productive it can be while it continually improves, making it more profitable and ensuring greater worker satisfaction. Our heavy-duty, industrial grade products stand up to the harshest working environments, and you get higher quality products than what others pay for lighter-weight alternatives.

Contact us or call today at (800) 274-4123, and let us share the wealth of information our company has learned over the years helping organization’s just like your successfully implement continuous improvement programs.

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  • Implementing Continuous Improvement Programs
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