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Creating guiding principles for your improvement projects


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If you want a simple way to direct your continuous improvement activities, and projects, then create a set of guiding principles for use in your own business.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Creating guiding principles for your improvement projects

  1. 1. Creating guiding principles for your improvement projects
  2. 2. What is a guiding principle? “A generic idea, or truth, that can help us steer our day to day decisions.” …how do we apply this to our continuous improvement projects?
  3. 3. Generating your productive truths Start by brainstorming generic truths for your business. For example: Productive Truths Planning is first The capacity plan is king Meetings have agendas
  4. 4. Productive Truths No booking, no move Lead by example Maintenance isn’t negotiable Preparation is vital
  5. 5. 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: Issue: Order delivered late Principle: “The capacity plan is king” Verdict: Order book overloaded Action: Revise contract review process
  6. 6. Using the principles with your CI projects A few common options are: 1 2 3 Vetting your new improvement ideas Creating a gap analysis Using as a brainstorming tool
  7. 7. 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’. Opportunity #1 Opportunity #2 2/9 5/9  
  8. 8. 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 Start here!
  9. 9. 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: Principle #4 Idea #1 Idea #2 Idea #3 Idea #4 Idea #5 …and use option 1 to prioritise them!
  10. 10. Remember: • 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 period. Focus = results. • Don’t have too many. • Use them!
  11. 11. Put your principles to best use Combine the guiding principles idea with the Improvement Accelerator Framework to speed up how quickly your business can improve its performance levels. Find out more here:
  12. 12. 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, follow him on Twitter - @BetterFasterNow.