At EON, the key insight that has driven the vision and strategic direction of our business for the past several years is this…the most important determinant of success when it comes to the broad-based deployment of a continuous improvement (CI) program is the effectiveness of the organization’s continuous improvement management model. Before I go further, let me provide our working definition for a CI management model:
The combination of resources, governance processes, methodologies, and tools required to undertake meaningful and lasting improvement.
Where many organizations falter is that they ignore certain factors described in the above definition or consider those factors in isolation from each other when, in reality, they’re interdependent. Examples of mistakes we’ve seen include:
- Resourcing the initial deployment of CI (i.e., the “transformation” phase) with an external consultant/journey partner without addressing the resource vacuum that’s created as that consultant pulls away (as an aside, it’s inexcusable for any consultant to not proactively work with their client on an exit plan to ensure minimal disruption and maximum likelihood for long-term success)
- Missing the mark on the ratio of corporate to location-level CI resources
- Failing to establish a governance process for CI that requires and enables the active involvement of business leadership
- Working in functional silos, resulting in multiple improvement agendas competing for limited bandwidth
- Leveraging substandard, not-fit-for-purpose tools to track and report the volume, nature, and status of CI efforts across the enterprise
If you’ve been a part of an organization that has made one of the mistakes described above or have otherwise seen a CI program fail to live up to expectations because of poor management, you’re probably convinced of the value of a systemic CI management model. However, you may not have a great sense as to what good looks like when it comes to CI management. In our experience working with companies to drive broad-based CI programs we’ve identified the following four key characteristics of world class CI management:
- All of the major CI work streams – strategy setting, improvement project execution, best practices implementation, and performance analytics – operate in concert to drive the optimal improvement agenda for the business. This means that strategic objectives have been deployed throughout the organization, all improvement projects are explicitly linked to their corresponding strategy, the implementation of new work practices and standard business processes are based on an objective assessment of operational maturity, and the operational and financial “gap to perfect” is understood and used to drive location-level strategy setting and improvement project prioritization
- Managing, reporting, and tracking of the status of CI occurs in real time and is diffused throughout the organization thereby freeing up scarce CI resources to spend more time adding value to the business. In other words, the efforts of dedicated CI resources are not directed away from value added improvement work and toward non-value added administrative work (e.g., updating spreadsheets, requesting status updates, compiling reports, etc.) that exists solely because they don’t have access to the right tools
- Facility and system-level leaders have full visibility into the nature and status of CI activity, which they use to make better decisions. We believe strongly that leaders need to have a “leading indicators” scorecard at their disposal that provides immediate insight into the improvement agenda of the organization they lead
- Individual employees know exactly what they are committed to do in support of the organization’s larger improvement agenda. Just as leaders need the aggregated “scorecard” view for CI, every employee needs to understand how they individually fit into the larger improvement agenda of the organization.
Improve CI Management with EON
We’ve been helping companies to put in place effective CI management models for years, which led to the development of EON. EON is a dedicated and comprehensive cross industry improvement management platform that seamlessly integrates with any organization’s existing CI management model or, for organizations that are early in their journey, dramatically accelerates the implementation of their new management model. The tracking, reporting, visualization, and decision support tools within EON enable world class CI management.