The essential steps in your improvement cycle are evident: Plan – Do – Check - Act. However, one improvement cycle can be more straightforward than the other. So how do you determine how many, and which steps are necessary for a specific situation?
A simple improvement cycle: the cause and solution are known
Improving a situation can often be quite simple. No further research is necessary, working on the answer can be done immediately, and one person can do the improvement cycle. The cost is null and the lead time is quite short. In this case, the intermediate steps in the improvement cycle are:
A fast improvement cycle: the cause is known, but the solution is not
When the answer is yet to be found, the improvement cycle will contain a few intermediate steps. Often, more departments or people are needed to come to a solution. The costs and benefits have to be clear in this process. The lead time of this process will, of course, be longer. The intermediate steps in this case are:
-Describe the problem
-Draw up the most important causes and improvement ideas
-Chart the expected savings of the improvement
A complete improvement cycle: the cause is unknown, so the solution is unknown too
The most extensive improvement cycle is the one where a problem is evident, but the cause is not yet apparent. It takes people from different departments to research the reason and to implement improvements. There’s no way to know about costs and benefits at the start of the improvement cycle, or what the lead time of the cycle will be. The intermediate steps of this improvement cycle are:
-Describe the problem
-Form a team
-Draw up objectives
-Draw up a planning
-Chart the process
-Chart the kinds of losses
-Establish base conditions
-Find cause and effect
-Draft an execution plan
-Draw up standards
-Make a presentation
It’s essential for LEAN manufacturing to work in improvement cycles. Turning that into everyday practice isn’t always easy. Almost everybody who wants to work LEAN starts with Excel-based action lists. However, who then has a clear view of the progress? On which sheet is your action described. Who has the latest version?
That's why we developed Cierpa Kaizen. It’s a targeted improvement, and coworkers will make solid choices based on the right balance of impact and effort. The decision which improvement will have the largest impact with the least amount of effort will be made jointly. It speeds up the improvement process. Moreover, the improvement potential of the improvement cycle will be clear from the start.