Creating guiding principles for your improvement projects
Creating guiding principles
for your improvement
What is a guiding principle?
“A generic idea, or truth, that
can help us steer our day to
…how do we apply this to our
continuous improvement projects?
Generating your productive truths
Start by brainstorming generic truths for your business. For
plan is king
Living by your productive truths
Once you have between 1 and 10 principles (a good quantity to
help you focus!), use the principles whenever you need to reflect
on a situation. For example:
Order delivered late
“The capacity plan is king”
Order book overloaded
Revise contract review process
Using the principles with your CI projects
A few common options are:
1 2 3
Vetting your new
Creating a gap analysis Using as a brainstorming
Option 1 – Vetting your improvement ideas
When prioritising your CI opportunities, identify how many
principles each project will cover. The more principles covered by
a project could indicate more ‘bang for your buck’.
Option 2 – Creating a gap analysis
List out all of your principles, score each one out of 10 (10 =
living and breathing it, 1 = ignoring it). Prioritise your focus
based on the lower scores and aim for 10/10 on all principles:
Principle #1 Principle #2 Principle #3 Principle #4 Principle #5 Principle #6
5/10 7/10 2/10 8/10 4/10 6/10
Option 3 – Using the principles for new ideas
When you are looking for new improvement ideas, reflect on your
principles and use them to direct your brainstorming:
…and use option 1 to prioritise them!
• Don’t keep the principles to yourself, share them.
• Don’t worry about only having one or two:
I once used just one principle – one factory, one schedule – to
help my teams get their on time delivery performance up from
22% to over 98% in just three months. The production lead time
dropped from 18 weeks to just over 3 weeks in the same time
Focus = results.
• Don’t have too many.
• Use them!
Put your principles to best use
Combine the guiding
principles idea with the
Framework to speed up
how quickly your business
can improve its performance
Find out more here:
About Giles Johnston
Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer
who consults with businesses to
improve their productivity and on time
delivery performance. Giles is also the
author of Business Process Re-
engineering and the creator of the
Making It Happen toolkit.
To keep up to date with Giles’ ideas,
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