The business of improving processes is serious business. Often called “Kaizen,” process improvement is a systematic series of actions, or steps, taken to identify, analyze and improve an existing business process to meet target goals and objectives, such as increasing productivity and/or profits, lowering defect rates, and reducing customer lead times.
Our ApproachThe Peters Company helps your team learn proven effective methods for understanding a process and its associated waste, brainstorming and planning improvements, testing changes, and creating standard work that team members and management agree to follow—the “Least Waste Way” to do the process.
When a process is identified for improvement, preparation begins weeks in advance.
A scope document is prepared, briefly describing the current situation and problems to be addressed during the improvement event. Improvement objectives are set and team members are selected. Team members are brought together for review and training on concepts and methods.
Pre-work then begins. A number of tools such as stopwatches, “spaghetti” diagrams, time observation forms and sticky notes help pre-work teams document critical information. This is referred to as “documenting reality” because the goal is to record only what is happening in the process, not what is supposed to happen—or what we think happens.
The ImprovementAfter seeing first-hand how the process currently is done, team members gather to brainstorm ideas for removing waste. The team narrows the list of ideas from their brainstorming session and then go out and test them within the process.
Team members often “become” the work crew to test ideas with minimal disruption to those doing the actual work. This is especially helpful for events scheduled during busy seasons, when waste is most visible, offering the best opportunities for improvement.
When a process change occurs during this trial time, metrics are tracked and documented based on event objectives. These data are compared to current state metrics. Positive results become the basis for creating a new “least waste way” of doing business. Visual controls, documentation, training and support from leaders sustain this positive change.
Sustaining the GainsThe challenge of Lean is sustaining the gains over the long term. Many organizations find that improvements are lost over time due to a tendency to drift backwards to a prior, more wasteful state. Some resist change because it’s uncomfortable—it’s human nature. Leaders must drive a culture of continuous improvement. It takes strong leadership with vision and tenacity to make significant, ongoing improvements in an organization.
To sustain the gains, we help your company develop habits and standard methods to drive your improvement goals. We develop leaders in your company that work alongside less experienced personnel to standardize the improvement process across your organization. These new Lean practitioners become a powerful group of influencers that mentor and coach others.