Interviewjackkessels S

An improvement process only works when improvement is an ongoing priority: when it’s structured, when it’s part of the company culture. Jack Kessels has 30 years of experience as an advisor and interim manager. How does he create a solid foundation for a thriving improvement culture?


With 30 years in the business, you must have the answer: what is the best improvement method?

“There’s no such thing as the best improvement method. Each method has advantages and disadvantages.

I started at Proudfoot as the first real operational improvement consultant. The brown paper sessions, the first steps towards OEE: improvement wasn’t very well known in the Netherlands, so we shaped it ourselves.

Since then, I’ve seen all methods pass me by: JIPM, Business Process Redesign, LEAN, Kaizen, Scrum, Agile, Six Sigma. All of them are fine. But a suitable method doesn’t guarantee a successful improvement project. That realization often has to kick in.


A suitable method doesn’t guarantee a successful improvement project.


 So, what makes an improvement project really successful?

“A good improvement project looks at three aspects:

  1. The technical side, the line, the process. Where are the bottlenecks, how could you optimize?
  2. The system that’s being used in the organization to monitor the process. Like the link between goals and budgets to the short term, the forecast towards daily actions.
  3. The people inside the organization. What’s the layout and the structure within the organization like? What’s the corporate culture like? Are the people motivated, and do they have the proper knowledge.

If you combine these aspects in a development plan, there will be room for a complete improvement project.”

Measuring will then be an essential part of the process.

“Of course. A measurement instrument gives you insight into various performances and manufacturing data. You see what doesn’t go well and what does. It provides a handle on where your priorities should lie. And you see trends and developments.

But it’s a classic mistake to measure only as a technical information source. Once people understand how to use the information, measuring helps them with all aspects of the improvement project.


Measuring should be the basis of your daily improvement plan.


To really and profoundly improve, measuring should be the basis of your daily improvement plan, not a periodic calibration point.

It should determine the layout of your meetings, your dashboards, and your wall charts. Because then you create a transparent and reliable information flow, with which you can compare the red thread with the current state. Is your result different from what you had planned? Then you immediately start looking at the cause, so you can start with the necessary actions.

And that gives you the basis for continuous improvement. In monitoring results and targets, but also in stimulating motivation and commitment inside the organization.”

How does measuring help to get people on board with the process?

“Support within the organization is essential for lasting change. What’s the use? It works both ways. Management wants their targets to be reached. And the operator wants the work to flow smoothly. You must show that the improvement method you want to implement will help realize that without any hassle. 

Management is often easily convinced. As long as measurements are part of an improvement method and you can show that it provides the graphs and reports the need to monitor the results and set new targets, they are on board.


You won’t get the operator on board by being difficult


The real challenge lies with the operator. When the guy at the line doesn’t understand OEE or why he would want to work with it, you’ve lost him. And also if the new way of working is complicated. But if the operator can easily see how the machine's performance compares to last week and how he contributes to the overall goals, then support, new ideas, and suggestions will come naturally. That way of working is much more effective.

So, with OEE, the primary target group for me is the operator. I want him to get on board. I won’t succeed by being difficult. When you use too many complex terms, you are 1-0 behind. So, I explain OEE as TEL: Total Efficiency of the Line. Just be normal. And I show what effect the operator’s daily work has on the whole.” 

How does Cierpa Software help with these projects?

“Cierpa Software is easy to use, on the work floor, for management, and for the consultant. It’s starts up quickly, it’s easy to configure and to use, and easy to monitor, even remotely.

Also, and this is really important, it's not just a measuring instrument like many; it is a complete suite of improvement software that even has a measuring instrument. It’s a complete improvement package that offers insight and really motivates. That takes you from a snapshot with a separate measurement tool to an improvement project from measuring to securing. And I can show it to the client too.

With reliable measurements and good reporting, you know why your results are the way they are. You can use that knowledge to move forward with actions and improvements. That link absolutely makes Cierpa Software one of the best packages on the market.”