Continuous Improvement Tools - Why do continuous improvement efforts fail

B

BRoyal

#1
Continuous Improvement Tools

I am reading a paper on why continuous improvement efforts fail.

One of the contentions is that as the technical complexity and organizational complexity of an improvement project grow, the improvement methodologies that work on less complex projects become less and less adeaute for the challenges of improveing complex technical process across multiple organizations.

Therefore, we need to develop new improfvement tools more approriate for the ineractions across organizational units.

Any ideas on what these tools might be?

The paper is "Overcoming the Improvement Paradox" and appeared in the European Management Journal, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.120-124, 1999.
 
Elsmar Forum Sponsor

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#2
The theory sounds to be pretty reasonable and typical of a paradigm shift. For this, I would recommend "Paradigms" by Joel Arthur Barker. It is a terrific and quick read.

Basically, as a paradigm matures, it becomes less and less likely to solve new more complex problems. To solve the new, more complex problems, a new paradigm is necessary. The problem is in the paradigm shift itself. Folks are content to use the prevailing paradigm, especially if it has made them successful or helped them to climb the corporate ladder. How fast and brave would any of us be to throw out the tool which brought us our success?

Initiatives like Continuous Improvement require a paradigm shift. It is difficult for Senior Managers to make this shift for the reason noted above. Sure, many want it and ask for it, but they are not likely to give up the command control approach. CI initiatives bring a host of new tools, few to none are experienced with their use or their existance. What is also a hinderence is that to have CI, you must first understand where you are and how the process in play operates. This takes time, which few senior managers are willing to contribute or give financial support to. They are after fast and profitable results. They are, for the most part, results-oriented.

Just an opinion.

Regards,

Kevin
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
To boil it down, things become boring (optimized) after a while. The less dynamic your company is, the faster continuous improvement dies. FMEAs are a structured way to (if used correctly in concert with an effective nonconformance and CA system) force (institutionalize) Continuous Improvement driven by data.

And you reach a point where all the easy stuff is addressed. The hard stuff and the expensive stuff are next in line and guess what....

Remember that paradigms evolve - sometimes rather rapidly.

I suggest rotation of multiple tools so you don't get stuck.

And everything Kevin said.
 
A

Al Dyer

#4
And in my opinion run the process through a well defined project management system that allows for free thought and ongoing change.

Also realize that if set up properly, upper management does not need to be involved in the day to day project management process. They need the results.

While not to say that upper management is void of involvement in the development of a robust system, when upper management micro-manages these types of programs/processes they are candidates for a high failure rate.

ASD...
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#5
"To boil it down, things become boring (optimized) after a while"

Very well put!! Seeing this written as you did reminded me of a demonstration I saw at the Deming Conference last Fall. The presentered had two 2-liter Coke bottles connected top-to-top. One bottle was about 3/4 filled. When you inverted the bottles, the water would chug from one to the other. We would time the transfer. To improve flow, we created a Vortex my swirling the bottle (optimize flow) and timed again. The water transferred at the quickest rate. The question was asked, "Could we improve upon an optimized flow?" A silent room. The presenter picked up the bottle, began the swirl and the Vortex formed. We watched as the water transferred and then he shook it. The water fell in on itself and to the amazement of the crowd, transferred quicker.

The moral: some chaos is good. It causes a reaction.

Back to the group...
 
A

asutherland

#6
Marc said:
To boil it down, things become boring (optimized) after a while. The less dynamic your company is, the faster continuous improvement dies.
Why do C.I.'s die?

I have been doing C.I. for 18 yrs now. I'm not sure I can list all the reasons, but I will list a few.

No. 1. We don't sent specific goals, we just want to do better than we are doing now, and we want someone to do it for us. -- Lazy

No. 2. We have been doing it this way for 30 years and no lean guy can convince me it can be done better, so I'm just going to ignore him, and if something does happen, I'm going to change it back to the way it was. - - Ignorant

No. 3. I think lean should be done this way so I'm going to do it that way. If it doesn't work, then lean doesn't work. - - Uneducated

No. 4. We did it that way once, and it didn't work. - - Liar

No. 5. Your the lean guy, make it happen. - - Uncommitted

No. 6. I was told to do it this way, its not my fault it didn't work. - - Untrained

No. 7. I hired a lean guy and he did a bunch of Kaizen blitz's, and make things sound good for a while, but things just went back to the way they were. - - Uninformed.

No. 8. Lean is just a catch phrase. - - :ca: Failure

No. 9. We just spend a lot of time cleaning stuff. - - Confused

N0. 10 Tried it at the other plant and it failed their too! - - Afraid

In regards to complexity of tool to fit complex problems - I have never found that situation. What I did find was simular though which was lack of understanding of the process capability with respect to the desired output.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#7
I, on the other hand, do not view any of asutherland's list as anything more than mere "annoyances" for qualified change agent who has plenty of tools in his kit to counter negativism from staff and even managers.

I see two main situations which result in continual improvement projects which produce no net improvement:
  1. Processes running at or near optimal, where continued input may result in improved process, but the cost of implementing the improvement outweighs the value derived from the improvement. (This is by far the most observed situation.)
  2. Change agents with few tools in their toolbox, resulting in what I term the "I only have a hammer" syndrome, resulting in everything looking like a nail.
Organizations which experience situation #1 have to concentrate their efforts in "cherry picking" and add controls in their improvement projects (evaluation?) which alert them the improvement initiative is a blind alley.

Frankly, situation #2 only has a chance of being ameliorated when top management recognizes the change agent seems to be creating "busy work" with no real net results - the key being net improvement.

One of the underlying drivers of Situation 1 is blind frenzy on the part of organizations who take the concept of "continual improvement" to mean "continuous activity" rather than continual thinking BEFORE initiating activity. There are some organizations which have whole departments centered on creating and running Designs of Experiments. When a department becomes that specialized, it creates situation #2, and begins running DOE for the sake of running DOE, rather than the goal of net improvement for the organization. This is similar to the situation at GE when Neutron Jack was in charge and competing 6S practitioners were robbing Peter to pay Paul, each showing net improvment for HIS project (but at the expense of some other entity elsewhere in the supply chain, with no real net saving ever filtering through to GE's bottom line.)
 
A

asutherland

#8
I, on the other hand, do not view any of asutherland's list as anything more than mere "annoyances" for qualified change agent who has plenty of tools in his kit to counter negativism from staff and even managers.

Annoyances?

I like that.

I have seen each of these senerio's result in a failed attempt to drive lean. Most of them occured in places where lean has never really been given a good attempt, or chance, AND, as you stated "annoyances for a qualified change agent" is the real key. In most of the aforementions items, this was the case in that the change agent should have been more prepared.

In any event, that has still stopped lean from progressing.

I guess the real underline of this could be accurated stated as " If the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught". or Lean often fails because of unqualified lean experts, who only think their experts.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#9
Folks often find humor in my "persnickety" word choices.

In my mind (an often scary place), I choose the words precisely because of the nuance.

For example, I rarely use the words "teach" or "instruct" when I am performing that activity. I choose a phrase which seems more descriptive of my intended end result: "help the students learn." It seems to me the task others refer to as "teaching" is not really accomplished until the end result of student learning is achieved.

Similarly, a change agent trying to implement lean or any other initiative, is not finished until the initiative is up and running smoothly. The change agent who blames "them" for a failed installation is as immature and ineffective as the job candidate who applies for the wrong job with the wrong set of qualifications and horridly jumbled resumé and cover letter and then proceeds to blame "them" because he isn't hired to a dream job at $300,000/year.
 
A

asutherland

#10
Wes Bucey said:
Similarly, a change agent trying to implement lean or any other initiative, is not finished until the initiative is up and running smoothly. The change agent who blames "them" for a failed installation is as immature and ineffective as the job candidate who applies for the wrong job with the wrong set of qualifications and horridly jumbled resumé and cover letter and then proceeds to blame "them" because he isn't hired to a dream job at $300,000/year.
What? $300k/yr . . . and take a pay cut.

I agree. As often as any tool is used, whether a hammer, saw, or lean tool, the result can be best achieved when the tool is used in the right order, at the right time, to get the best planned output.

Broyal . . . . question? Why write "why lean fails?" I mean, who cares about failures . . . why not write about why and where it succeeds?
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
D Continuous Improvement Idea Gathering Tools and Software Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement 7
B CI (Continuous Improvement) Tools and Techniques - What is the state of the art? Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 4
M Continuous Improvement - How to achieve - What tools/methods ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 13
G Lean Kaizen: continuous, step-by-step improvement in the Lean direction Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 0
S Government MotorPool Continuous Improvement ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 10
S Need Continuous improvement Suggestions - Small (30 of us) all-CNC machine shop ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 28
N FDA Guidelines for implementing Continuous Improvement Process US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 5
L Is there a certifiable Continuous Improvement system? Various Other Specifications, Standards, and related Requirements 6
J Continuous Improvement vs. Preventive Actions - Differences Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement 3
M Continuous Improvement Log vs. Formal CAPA System Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement 3
F Suggestions for quick & effective solution for Continuous Improvement Requirements ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 14
A Continuous Improvement: How it works in your company? How to record the CI actions? Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 4
P Benchmarking and Continuous Improvement Tool Benchmarking 3
L How to Document Continuous Improvement Projects Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 2
V Which improvement tool/approach do you adopt for driving Continuous Improvement? Quality Tools, Improvement and Analysis 3
Crusader Real World Continuous Improvement Examples for Accounting Personnel? Quality Tools, Improvement and Analysis 3
A Objectives & Targets - Continuous Improvement (ISO14001) ISO 14001:2015 Specific Discussions 8
kedarg6500 Continuous Improvement Course Slide ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 4
L Decision Matrix to help Operator driven Continuous Improvement Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 3
J Continuous Improvement SOP - How to demonstrate we meet TS 16949 Clause 8.5.1 IATF 16949 - Automotive Quality Systems Standard 12
C Continuous Improvement as a Newsletter Topic Misc. Quality Assurance and Business Systems Related Topics 5
M Samples of a Continuous Improvement Program Procedures Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement 3
D Desk Top CI (Continuous Improvement) form Document Control Systems, Procedures, Forms and Templates 8
L ISO9004:2009 Continuous Improvement Checklist wanted ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 5
I Changing Career Path - Document Controller to Continuous Improvement Specialist Career and Occupation Discussions 8
L Definition Preventive Actions vs. Continuous Improvement - Differences Definitions, Acronyms, Abbreviations and Interpretations Listed Alphabetically 5
S Continual (Continuous) Improvement - Different Standards, different requirements Occupational Health & Safety Management Standards 12
R Definition Continuous Improvement and Continual Improvement - Differences Definitions, Acronyms, Abbreviations and Interpretations Listed Alphabetically 21
A Continuous Improvement Template wanted Document Control Systems, Procedures, Forms and Templates 27
Marc --> Related Forum - Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement Nonconformance and Corrective Action 0
Marc --> Related Forum - Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement Problem Solving, Root Cause Fault and Failure Analysis 0
T Polite way to state Continuous Improvement is not a form? ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 8
Le Chiffre Great article on how to handle continuous improvement Quality Manager and Management Related Issues 3
J Continuous Improvement Documentation Method/Template Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement 1
B Continuous improvement and Management review process links ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 19
B What other activities should be included in a Continuous Improvement process? ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 1
C Continuous Improvement Toons wanted for Continuous Improvement Awareness Week Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement 2
Anerol C What can I show as evidence of Continual (Continuous) Improvement? Preventive Action and Continuous Improvement 81
Q Continuous Improvement Form - Really needed? IATF 16949 - Automotive Quality Systems Standard 3
J CI (Continuous Improvement) Induction presentation Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 3
C Games for mass participation in Continuous Improvement Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 11
G MSSC (Manufacturing Skills Standards Council) Quality And Continuous Improvement Misc. Quality Assurance and Business Systems Related Topics 2
J Measuring the progress of Continuous Improvement Program - Methods and Criteria used? Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 6
Y Energy Savings in Glass Tablewares Company - Continuous Improvement Manufacturing and Related Processes 3
kedarg6500 GM specs GP 5 PRR, GP 8 Continuous Improvement Customer and Company Specific Requirements 16
R Deploying Continuous Improvement Plans - Anyone here come from textiles industry? Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 3
G The ASQ 'Facilitating Continuous Improvement' course - Takes you thru the PDCA cycle? Training - Internal, External, Online and Distance Learning 0
J Continuous Improvement - A list of the improvements to show the auditor? ISO 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 9004 Quality Management Systems Standards 4
J Looking for Possible Continuous Improvement initiatives for the CI Process? IATF 16949 - Automotive Quality Systems Standard 7
J How to motivate top management - Fearful of continuous improvement and resist change Misc. Quality Assurance and Business Systems Related Topics 2

Similar threads

Top Bottom