You should be able to very clearly and concisely articulate where it is that you want to go before you do any of the things above. If you can’t, don’t start yet. When I ask this simple question to companies and people who ask me where to start, I usually get answers that may be accurate but aren’t really relevant. For example, I might hear, “We want to get better,” or “We want to save money.” While those are things that Lean can help achieve, neither of them paints the picture of what you want to accomplish.
You can read some of the Lean and continuous improvement books out there to get ideas or talk to some Lean professionals, but be sure to decide where you are trying to go before you take off on the trip.
Some of the things you should consider include:
n Have we gone through a reorganization that could impact the quality of our product?
n What is changing on the economic landscape that will impact our business?
n What changes may come out of a new government administration that could change our business model?
n What opportunities are being created right now that we need to capitalize on for the future?
n How old is our product offering, and is it time for a review?
n What is the long-term corporate strategy, and how will the improvement initiative support that strategy?
There are many other items that you should discuss as a team when formulating the vision for a continuous improvement program. The point is to have the conversations now before you start. Make sure you can clearly and consistently articulate what is important and what you are working toward.
The challenge for you and your colleagues is to be able to clearly answer and articulate an answer to the question, “Why are we embracing continuous improvement?”
For more from Beau, visit his blog.