Breakthrough Process Improvement

Sustaining Edge Solutions, Inc. Newsletter )
Performance Improvement Solutions for Your Business Needs January 2011
In this issue

  • Breakthrough Process Improvement
  • U.S. Manufacturers to Begin 2011 Hiring
  • Make a Difference in 2011
  • In The News
  • Training Courses
  • Greetings!

    Welcome to Sustaining Edge Solutions Performance Improvement Newsletter

    Our newsletters provide information on Business Management Systems ISO 9001, AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense, ISO/TS 16949 Automotive, ISO 27001 Information Security, ISO 13485 Medical Devices, ISO 14001 Environmental, and others. This includes process auditing techniques and process improvement methods Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, and other topics of interest to our readers..

    If you have a topic of interest for a future newsletter, please let us know.

    Newsletter Sign-up

    Breakthrough Process Improvement

    Cust Sat

    Organizations are faced with numerous improvement choices and buzzwords everywhere; Kaizen, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, TQM, Process Reengineering, Value Propositions. Sometimes the wrong choice is made based on the latest fad or recommendation of another. We rarely take the time to step back, identify, and analyze what the real issues are and the type of method to use.

    Let’s take a look at one of these improvement choices that organizations use, and we recommend, due to its minimal investment costs and high rate of return. Last month we used this improvement method at a client of ours, a Medical and Dental Service Provider. In this newsletter we will discuss essential principles and tools. With our next issue in February we will present expanded information on our project and results achieved.

    Kaizen (usually pronounced ‘kyzan’ or ‘kyzen’ in the western world) is a Japanese word, commonly translated to mean ‘continuous improvement’. Kaizen is a core principle of quality management aligned within the methods of Total Quality Management and ‘Lean Thinking. Kaizen is a methodology aimed at the elimination of waste in every area of the business including customer relations, manufacturing and service delivery, design, supplier networks and office management. Its goal is to incorporate less human effort, less inventory, less time to develop products and services, and less space to become highly responsive to customer demand while producing top quality services in the most efficient and economical manner possible.

    The principles of Kaizen are based upon:

    • Waste is hidden in all processes
    • Identifying and eliminating waste impacts costs and customer satisfaction
    • When waste is identified, it becomes clear that it adds no value to the customer and increases operating costs.
    In order to focus improvements on what matters, we have to clearly understand the interests of the people involved. These can include customers, stakeholders, suppliers, management, and employees. Kaizen uses a team approach. Team membership is made up of personnel who do the work. The team uses analytical tools and techniques to review systems and identify ways to improve and eliminate waste of time, money, materials, resources and effort to increase productivity and customer satisfaction.

    What are Kaizen Events?

    Kaizen events are focused three-to five-day breakthrough events that generally include the following activities:

    • Training
    • Defining the event scope /goals
    • Documenting the current state
    • Brainstorming and developing a future state
    • Implement improvements and presenting results
    • Follow-up activities.

    Pre-event training up to two hours is preferred to achieve familiarity with lean principles and tools training. Training should cover basic lean principles, eight wastes, benefits of standard work, event methods and team roles. More advanced training with method and tools are introduced during the event on an as-needed basis.

    Determining the event scope is the leader’s responsibility. When determining event scope, the leaders contribute relevant information such as event drivers, current state performance, and the desired performance. Variables can include 1) How aggressive are the event objectives? 2) Current state understanding in relationship to time and team members. 3) Process complexity can include the number of steps, systems, and personnel involvement. 4) Solutions complexity – What can be done now, and what will be part of the follow-up plan?

    Documenting the current state by mapping and flowing the processes that are involved you will be able to identify and eliminate the waste that causes the delays. Creating benchmark metrics will give you a baseline and let you identify where the problems in your processes really are and measure impact of changes. Metrics include process time (touch time) lead time (turnaround time) and percent complete and accurate. Remember that time is the primary metric in a lean approach, so determining the critical path of your mapping will determine the overall lead time.

    Brainstorming and developing a future state. With the current state documented, the Kaizen team members identify the waste in the process, determine root cause for the waste, and design effective countermeasures which becomes part of the future sate design. Analyzing the current state includes identifying the value-adding and necessary non-value adding steps with the primary customer in mind, the end user of the product or service. Specific root cause analysis tools are used to evaluate, prioritize, and select improvements the team will implement during the event. The goal is to highlight the process steps that contain the greatest waste, and improve the process using a number of metrics for future state implementation.

    Implement improvements and presenting results. Measurable, incremental improvement requires the team to focus on what can be done within the event timeframe. All improvements should make work easier, and an improvement must generate positive measurable results. During this phase team members are identifying potential future training requirements, anticipated benefits, and a sustainability work plan. This plan can include process monitoring, 30 to 60 day action plans, user inputs for process modification, and process compliance audits. The team is responsible for presenting their project results to the leadership group. A formal reporting process is used which includes event objectives, key improvements implemented, and projected and measurable results.

    Follow-up Activities. The improvement cycle is never over when the kaizen event concludes. Measuring, monitoring, and continual improvement is key to ensuring sustainability. Management and team follow-up meetings are needed to monitor progress, track results, and conduct lessons-learned activities are required. Part of this important stage is to conduct post-event process audits to ensure the improvements have been done, the new processes are being followed, and improvements are having the intended results. The “actual after measurement” metrics are documented to validate or alter the projected improvements defined in the future state process. Many organizations fail at this stage because they don’t aggressively continue to measure and analyze processes.

    Kaizen works best when it is ‘owned’ by people, who see the concept as both empowering of individuals and teams, and a truly practical way to improve quality and performance. Developing a continuous improvement organization ensures improvements produce not only better productivity and profit for the organization, but also better recognition and reward and other positive benefits for employees, whose involvement drives the change and improvement in the first place.

    Interested in more information or seeking Lean assistance, Contact Us.

    U.S. Manufacturers to Begin 2011 Hiring
    Senior management at U.S. manufacturing companies is once again optimistic, according to a recent survey by Grant Thornton LLP. Nearly half (49%) believe the U.S. economy will improve during the next six months, and the same amount (49%) say they plan to increase staff during the same period.Manufacturing leaders are also optimistic about their own businesses, with 81 percent feeling optimistic about their companies’ growth during the next six months.

    Despite reduced staffing levels and stricter customer mandates, manufacturers have improved their performance during the past three years in areas such as production cycle time, on-time delivery rate, scrap and rework, quality, and warranty costs.

    According to the survey, 47 percent of manufacturers expect to increase purchases of capital equipment, 47 percent expect to embark on process improvement initiatives, and 37 percent expect to spend on information technology.

    Click here to see all the survey findings

    Make a Difference in 2011

    At this time of year it is natural to reflect on your annual performance and set personal and business goals for the upcoming year.

    The question is what kind of results do you want to create for yourself and your business? Do you have customers coming back for more of your product or service? Do you have a set of ideal customers you want to cultivate? Are your business processes in control and capable of producing what you and your customers require on a continuous basis?

    The demands of today’s business environment have caused many of us to shift our approach from thinking as a professional to acting as an entrepreneur. Avoiding past mistakes and taking the time to plan your next moves can make the difference between an exceptional year, and a mediocre year for you and your organization.

    Being Generic. Do you act, look, and sound like your top competitor? Sales material, customer approach, support center processes, website content, all similar? Look for an edge that breaks you away from the rest of the herd.

    The Emperor with no Clothes. How deep are your relationships with your top customers? Can they identify beyond normal business practices how your value to them increased from last year? What types of evidence would they reference? Don’t ever take the crown jewels for granted, your competition is lurking.

    Failing to turn your Customers into a Sales Force. Your customers can become your largest asset for customer referrals. It is much easier and cheaper to keep in contact and query your current customers, than for example cold calling.

    Putting a Square Peg in a Round Hole. How much time did you spend on sales and marketing actions that didn’t produce results? Is your sales force making promises you can’t keep, or not fully understanding the capability of your business processes?

    Same Stuff, Different Day. Are you still marketing yourself the same way you did last year, five years, ten years ago? Which of your marketing decisions drove bottom line increases and what didn’t? Look around your industry, and seek the difference!

    Become a Renowned Expert. Successful business people spend their time developing their reputation. They don’t just rely on their business to sell themselves. They use tools to sell themselves and their products – speaking, writing, attending seminars/tradeshows, joining and contributing to professional and community associations.

    In The News
    Seven U.S. Organizations Receive 2010 Baldrige National Quality Award. This marks the first year that three small businesses have been selected at one time, and only the second instance during the award’s 23-year history that a total of seven organizations are being honored.The 2010 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 83 applicants. All of them were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results. The evaluation process for each recipient included about 1,000 hours of review and an on-site visit by a team of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in the applications.

    Southwest Airlines Favorite Among Fliers, Portland International Tops as Best Airport.

    The survey covers 16 domestic and 74 international airlines, as well as 30 major domestic airports. Conducted on, the survey is based on more than 8,000 frequent fliers who collectively took 139,300 flights in the past year. Zagat has reviewed the airline industry since 1990. In recent years, most major airlines’ ratings have dropped precipitously.

    Choice factors: When choosing a flight, respondents’ main considerations are not surprising: direct routes (65%), ticket price (55%), past experiences (50%), time of day (48%), and seat comfort/leg room (46%). If a meal is not offered on the flight, and most aren’t, 55% of surveyors opt to purchase food in the airport, while 18% bring food from home.

    Training Courses


    To see the course description, schedule, and on-line registration click on the course title below. We do provide onsite and custom training.

    View all our Courses

    View Our Web Based E-Training Courses

    Understanding and Implementing ISO9001:2008
    ISO 9001:2008 Process Based Internal Auditor
    Documenting Your Management System

    Understanding and Implementing AS9100C (9110 &9120) Aviation, Space and Defense
    AS9100C:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor
    Documenting Your Management System

    Understanding and Implementing ISO/TS16949:2009 Automotive
    ISO/TS16949:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor
    Documenting Your Management System

    Understanding and Implementing ISO14001:2004 Environmental
    ISO14001:2004 Process Based Internal Auditor

    5S Five Pillars of a Lean Workplace Organization
    Continuous Process Improvement
    Lean Six Sigma
    8 Disciplines (8D) of Problem Solving

    Understanding and Implementing ISO 13485:2003 Medical Devices
    ISO 13485 Process Based Internal Auditor

    Understanding and Implementing ISO 27001:2005 Information Security
    ISO 27001 Process Based Internal Auditor

    All courses can be delivered at your company. Don’t see a course, location, or date that fits your needs?

    Contact Us

    Quick Links

  • Consulting Services
  • Profit Improvement
  • Management Systems
  • Newsletters and Events
  • Courses & Schedules
  • Leave a Reply