Lean and Continuous Improvement

Do Your Continuous Improvement Teams Have What It Takes To Win?

As a judge recently at the Share Showcase 2018 competition organized by High Performance Solutions, I was reminded as I listened to 12 high powered teams present their projects, that there are some very common characteristics of both the projects and the leaders on the teams.  None of these are a surprise, but it was fascinating with the consistency to which these characteristics were demonstrated across the 12 competing teams.

The characteristics that really stood out are:

Simplicity – Ability to break down complex or difficult processes, functions or projects  to very simple easily understood steps, tasks or responsibilities.  Simple is better.  Solutions don’t have to be complex or cost a lot of money to implement.  Tools and solutions implemented can be simple but have significant positive and material impact on the problem tackled.

Visual – make key or important elements, control points, status, or results very visual with various visual control mechanisms, control boards, kanban cards, flow charts, etc.

Clear Goals/targets – Ensure that the project or team goal and individual targets are understood, clear and the entire team is aligned towards the achievement of the goal.  Start with understanding the current condition, end state, and the gap needed to close.

Engagement – Total involvement and engagement from all levels, from shop floor employees to top management.  Positions, titles, and hierarchy are neutralized and everyone has an equal stake of ownership in the projects and the outcomes.

Communication – Full transparency of the problem, boundaries to work within, budgets, challenges, and barriers/obstacles to name a few.  Focus on improving basic communication between teams about a problem or process status.

Idea Collection – Everyone’s opinions and ideas are heard equally.  No idea is ruled out.  Everyone on the team has a voice and opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions.

Perseverance – Never give up.  When something fails, learn from the failed attempt and try again.

Motivation – An overwhelmingly positive attitude about their jobs, contributions, their leaders, and company.  Proud of what they have achieved and wanting to do more.

I love coming to work now!  It’s not really even work.

This was a quote made by one of the employees of the winning team from Centerline.  He really meant it.  That is employee motivation and engagement any company wants to achieve!

Watch for the next post “Do You Have What it Takes to Lead Continuous Improvement Teams?”

Leave a comment – What other aspects or characteristics have you observed that successful Continuous Improvement teams exhibit?


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