Lean champions, who are they?

Every activity, movement, or new initiative needs advocates, people that support and promote the cause.  Continuous improvement or lean is not the exception.  The journey to transform the company will be easier if you have lean champions in your team.

Why you need them?

As we plan the continuous improvement rollout, we spend a lot of time on how to earn the trust of our employees.  During previous years, most of the staff changed.  At the time the plant changed its business operation model, many people retired.  For that reason, we hired new supervisors and managers.   The concern of the most senior members of the staff was that people could have trust issues.

Accept changes is never easy, especially when you tell people with an average of 22 years on the job that they will learn new ways to do it.  Knowing all the changes from the previous year, how could they trust that we were not trying to fire people?  Our lean coach suggested identifying team members known for being natural leaders to help.  People feel at ease with trusted leaders.  Therefore, they come into the conversation with less apprehension.  An advocate that is considered trustworthy by the team is the best way to gain their attention.

What are lean champions?

A lean champion is an advocate for the continuous improvement journey.  He or she knows the tools and helps others to use them.  Moreover, they promote lean thinking not only with words but with their actions.  In general, they will work closely with their coworkers to identify areas for improvement.  Also, they will guide and support the implementation of improvement ideas.  Most of the time, champions know the process very well and have experience in different functions.  That experience helps them to ask the right questions and guide their coworkers to learn.  However, it is not critical to be a subject matter expert.  

This group is more than promoters for the lean cause.  They will assist in continuous improvement events or even facilitate them.  Of course, they will need a coach to learn the ropes of the trade before going solo.

Lean champions may have different levels of experience, education, and qualifications.  People with previous continuous improvement experience are candidates to be champions.   However, not having experience in lean is not a deterrent to being a champion.  After all, continuous improvement is not about using tools but about the people and their learning experience.  For that reason, there are some characteristics or traits that have more weight than knowing the tools.

What are the characteristics of the lean champions?

Attitude and communication skills are among the most meaningful characteristics of members of this group.  They are positive people with the ability to adapt, avid learners, and enjoy helping others. Their communication skills are above average.  They can express ideas and simply and clearly.  Also, they can adapt their communication to different audiences. 

Honesty, integrity, consistency, and empathy are critical character traits for members of this group. Champions do what they say and have no problem admitting they don’t know something.  Of course, they have a strong will to succeed.  But also, they can cope with challenges and setbacks.  The ability to step back for a second to see the big picture and reflection as a learning tool is part of their skills.  

Lean champions don’t need to have any leadership positions.  The best I worked with were team members with a strong desire to learn and contribute to the company’s success.  Also, they have their egos under control and value the power of teamwork and collaboration.  These people don’t look to be in the spotlight at all times, although they feel comfortable doing it.

5S every day, not just once a month!

5S every day

A colleague who works in logistics is responsible for two warehouses in the same city.  Both sites have been implementing 5S.  One of them has been successful, while the other is not.  He asks me how it is possible to have different results.  Although both locations received the same training and support, their implementation approach was different.  Only one of those teams was practicing 5S every day.  

Change behaviors to do 5S every day

Have you ever tried to lose weight?  How well did it go?  I tried many times with no sustainable results until I learn what I was doing wrong.  Each time I failed; I was following a diet.  I treated my weight loss as individual events with a common goal.  However, healthy eating is for every day, not for special occasions.   It wasn’t until I change my eating habits that were able to lose weight for good.

Like with weight loss, 5S will not be successful until people build new behaviors.  Get used to putting things back in their place immediately after use takes time.  After all, it’s easier to leave things where you last used them.  The problem is to remember where that was.  For sustainable results, you have to change that behavior by creating new habits.

5S is an activity to practice every day, throughout the day.  Before launching the program, leadership needs to agree on how to achieve the fifth S, sustain.  The effort requires the participation of all site leaders.  Everybody needs to walk the workplace every day to verify cleanliness and organization conditions.  If shadow boards have empty spots, it means that tools are out of place.  If the material is missing from their allocated staging floor areas, it means that material is missing.  For instance, those examples represent future problems, either searching time or delays.

How to create the habits

While setting up the materials and equipment, work on how to create new habits.  Ask the team how they could trigger the desired response.  Once they finish work, what will trigger putting the tools or equipment back on their location.  

For example, empty printer cartridges go inside a labeled box in the office supply room.  However, some people throw them in the trash or leave them in their office or cubicle.  To build the habit, add how to dispose of the cartridge as part of the instructions to change it.  Also, include what the trigger would be for this action.  For instance, a good time would be the completion of the printer testing.  After confirmation that the printer is working, take the old cartridge to its designated location.  The problem is that most people would decide to move it to a location later.  And then, they don’t remember.  

Sometimes, people convince themselves that it is better to put things back in their place at the end of the shift.   Ask questions to understand why they think that way.  Where they leave them throughout the day?  Are there any safety hazards?  Are they wasting time searching for them?  Maybe the designated area is not the best.  By working with the team to understand their reasons and creating a plan together, sustainability will have a better chance.  

At times, like in the printer cartridge example, it makes sense to compromise.  For example, have a mailbox by the door or entrance.  They see it while walking out, take it, and move it to its place.

After launching the program, sustain it with 5S every day

That is the difference between the warehouse teams.  One group completed all the kick-off event preparation in detail.  After that, they completed the first three steps, leaving the areas with temporary marks.  They planned to test locations and quantities before making them permanent. The problem is the responsible parties never follow-up.  At that time, those temporary marks became permanent.  And then, when things didn’t go as planned, people were discouraged to continue.

At the same time, the other team follows similar planning and initial execution steps.  The only difference was that as part of their plan, they agreed on triggers for 5S activities.  The senior supervisor and his team had on their leader standard work a daily 5S walk.  They also had a board where they mark their visits and top three observations.  This information was part of the daily huddle meetings.   Also, the leadership group makes a point to acknowledge at least one positive comment every day.  That simple action helps to enforce the desired behavior.  For instance, supervisors celebrate each program milestone and recognize groups or individuals that achieve their 5S goals.

Forklift operators and clerks have their triggers for 5S activities as well.  For example, lunch break is one of the triggers for the operators.  With this one, they know it is time to park and charge their truck in one of the designated spaces.  

By identifying what will signal the start of each 5S task, the group initiates to build the habit of doing 5S every day, all day.  This way, their program for housekeeping and organization became a daily activity.  They created new behaviors to ensure sustainability.  For the other warehouse, it happens only when the warehouse was a mess or visitors were coming.  

Improvement suggestions program, what is it?

improvement suggestions box

A solid foundation of employee involvement activities is critical to achieving the continuous improvement goals.  One of those elements is the improvement suggestions program.

What is an improvement suggestions program?

An employee suggestion program gives your employees a formal way to express their ideas to improve the processes of the workplace conditions.  Also, it is a way to channel those ideas from the work floor to management.  

A well manage suggestion plan serves two purposes.  The first is to formalize the suggestions process.  The second is to provide documentation of individual contributions.  With the former, leadership can prioritize ideas aligned with the company goals.  The ladder provides documentation for the year-end performance review.

Are you ready to lunch this program?

Why do you want to lunch an improvement suggestions program?  If you want to check a box from your to-do list, do not do it.  Are you receiving a steady number of suggestions?  If ideas are not flowing from employees to supervisors and managers, maybe you are not there yet.  On the other hand, if enthusiasm is growing and team members are communicating ideas constantly, it is time to launch your suggestions program.

Characteristics of an improvement suggestions program

But the improvement suggestions program is much more than a suggestions box.  Above all, careful design of the process is important.  For instance, the following are factors that describe a successful suggestions plan.

  • Hassle-free process – Make it easy to participate by providing a simple suggestions form. 
  • Clear and fair rules – Same rules for everybody, explain how you would assign a value or impact to the results of the estimated improvements.  Moreover, explain the rewards and recognition system tied to the suggestions propositions and results.  Also, establish guidelines for the type of topics open to suggestions and how ideas are prioritized.
  • Quick feedback – Establish a standard, such as responding to suggestions within one week.  Even more, create the standard for what information should be included in the response and how the feedback will be provided.
  • Program promotion and evaluation – Check how the system is doing versus the standards and look for areas for improvement.  Furthermore, create a measuring or evaluation system and publish the results.  For example, the total number of suggestions and participation percentage

Don’ts

A badly designed program will hurt your continuous improvement transformation.  Once it loses credibility it will be undertaken to win it back.  Put simply, avoid hurting the continuous improvement journey and the business bottom-line. The following are mistakes that should avoid.

  • Create a complicated form requesting too much information.
  • Take too much time to answer, don’t be the bottleneck of the process!
  • Have a homogenous evaluation team, include people from different functions and levels.
  • Fail to follow the program rules.

Summary

Team involvement activities are critical to achieving improvement goals in the areas of quality, cost, and delivery.   For that reason, their engagement is decisive to achieve the continuous improvement goals.  Certainly, it is important to create and maintain a fair and simple program that motivates participation.

Kaizen event do’s and don’ts, behaviors for success.

The ten ground rules for practicing continuous improvement events exist to ensure the right environment to encourage participation exists.  Therefore, is the job of the event facilitator to set clear expectations about following those rules.  It is also their job to steer the group in the direction.  Effective facilitators know how to guide the team and get results creating a positive and high-energy environment.  They do that by encouraging and motivating the right behaviors.  Let’s summarize them with the continuous improvement or kaizen event do’s and don’ts.  

Kaizen event do’s and don’ts for Success

kaizen event dos and don'ts

Keep the momentum on your CI event

Through the kaizen event, the facilitator teaches team members how to think lean and identify waste. For instance, the team will learn by doing.  While they go through the event process, the team learns and uses tools to analyze the current state.  Using lean thinking they will question the status quo and will learn how to see things differently.

To keep momentum, the event facilitator keeps asking questions.  He or she builds upon the team’s ideas and concerns to challenge the status quo.  Maybe, asking questions is the facilitator’s most important job.  In other words, questions are the vehicle to guide the team to discover their solution.  Through questioning with respect, they learn how to challenge the status quo.

Kaizen event do’s and don’ts, one more don’t

Also, to keep momentum on your CI journey I have one more Don’t for you.  Do not engage in an event that is not aligned with your business goals.  Through events, you are targeting those big gaps between the goals and the current state.  Before you start planning the event, ask Do these activities help the business to achieve its goals?  If the answer is no, then find another subject for your event.

What are the key roles for successful kaizen?

continuous improvement or kaizen event

Planning and executing a continuous improvement event is a team activity.  The team participating in the event is vital for its success.  But there are other equally critical key roles.  These roles are executive sponsor, value-stream manager, facilitator, event coordinator, and team-leader.  Let’s see the responsibilities of each one.

Key roles for direction and support

The executive sponsor is typically a C-suite leader, vice-president, senior leader, general manager, or plant manager.  His/her job is to provide direction and support to the event.  For instance, the sponsor will talk at the beginning of the event to clarify that a successful activity is necessary for company performance.  Moreover, the achievements of this type of exercise will not risk anyone’s job.

Frequently, the value-stream manager is a vice-president, director, or middle manager.  It is someone that has the authority to approve policy-related changes.  In addition, he or she has the power to approve improvements that can impact regulatory, financial, safety, or a critical process. The value-stream manager works with the event coordinator and participates in the planning and preparation stages.  Another duty is to communicate complete support to the event and the team.  Above all, should be present during the event ready to answer questions and remove barriers.

Key roles for planning

The event coordinator is responsible for the logistics of the event.  For example, coordinate the event date(s), reserve the room, and send out invitations.  Another task is to ensure that all necessary equipment and materials are available.  The coordinator is part of the team whose responsibility is to identify the best team members.  The other people responsible for this task are the value-stream manager and the HR manager.

Event Execution Roles

The facilitator is responsible for leading the event.  Sometimes, the event coordinator and the facilitator are the same people.  This situation is typical when the company has a seasoned staff in CI matters.  The facilitator participates in planning, team selection, and event logistics.  Also, it is part of the follow-up and post-event reflection.

In general, the team leader is the team member with the most knowledge in the process.  This position may not be necessary if the event is led by an internal facilitator.  But, if the facilitator is a consultant or external resource, the team leader is an advisor.  The facilitator will ask this person for advice or help when needed. 

External help for your kaizen event

If you are starting and have never done an event, you may want to hire an outside professional as your facilitator.  The objective of a good external facilitator is to help you to become a skilled facilitator and coordinator.  A good consultant will work with all the key roles in the planning, event execution, implementation, and follow-up of the event.  He or she will teach each member how to fulfill their role successfully.  Also, will let all key roles member to do their tasks while coaching them.  

Are you ready for your first continuous improvement event?  If you have doubts or need help to start your improvement journey, call Better Process Solutions.  We can help! 

Small Steps philosophy as a way of life

The first time I read Gemba Kaizen by Masaaki Imai, I was a junior manager responsible for several production lines.  The concept of improving processes by taking small steps at a time capture my attention.  It was the beginning of a never-ending learning process in continuous improvement.  I believe in this philosophy; it drives the way I work and make decisions.  I don’t remember when I started, but one day I realize that kaizen or the art of improving by taking small steps was my way of life.  I was learning and improving how I do things all the time.

Small steps as way of life 

After that realization, I started to consciously apply the basic concepts of some tools in my house.  For example, I started to use 5S to ensure I kept everything in my kitchen, closets, and garage organized.  My father learned that if he put things in their place, he wasted no time when he needed them again.  I also use kanban for my groceries to ensure that I don’t run out of my favorite items or over-stock the less used items.  Visual management becomes a staple in my calendars, inbox, and agendas.  

Over the years, I roll out my home CI initiatives to improve home tasks, from cooking to gardening.  I used PDCA to cut time, distance, and other types of waste.  The strategy I follow is to change things in small steps.  I create small steps by breaking a task into smaller pieces.  I do a plan for each assignment, test it, learn the result, and adjust.  

When I started gardening, I had no clue what I was doing.  In the beginning, I bought grown plants at local stores.  After work, I used to relax while taking care of them.  That was fun, but I wanted more. Therefore, I start reading and learning what types of vegetables grow in my area. The first year I took note of everything I did.  At the end of the season, I noted what worked and what didn’t.  I kept doing that every year, learning more and taking small risks at a time.  My gardening skills are much better now, and the number of vegetables harvested each season is growing.

Small steps to create or break a habit, or develop a skill

CI is useful for creating a habit, break a habit, or develop new skills.  The formation of a new habit has three steps, a trigger, the routine, and the reward.  Make sure that the new routine is a small step.  I know it works but, I could not explain why until I read the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life:  The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer.

In his book, he explains how to overcome fear and procrastination with seven small steps.  He also talks about how the reptilian brain governs the fight-or-flight response that keeps us alive in the face of danger.  When something triggers fear, this response kicks in to sabotage your intentions.  The trick to achieving change is to think of small steps.  Maurer recommends asking your brain what one small step you could take toward reaching your goal.  Small questions or small steps keep the fight-or-flight response in off position.

Fear paralyze us, use small steps to keep going

Fear or uncomfortable feelings keep us from doing things that we don’t like.  When you faced a situation you don’t like, the flight mode kicks in.  As a result, you ignore the event until you can’t anymore.  By then, it is a hot mess, only because you did not deal with it before.  It is better to listen to the warning signs and gut feelings that tell you that something is wrong. Once you recognized the warning, deal with a small problem and not a big one.    

A different way to see and do things

The secret to your success is to take small steps.  Sounds funny, even silly, but it works.  Before we learn to run, we learn to crawl, take one step while holding onto something, and then walk without help.  Breaking a task into smaller pieces makes sense.  It allows you to grasp the situation and deal with it with greater chances of success.  Many small wins add up to a big win.  Do not let fear paralyze you.  Keep going, one small step at a time.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain

Continuous improvement books for beginners

continuous improvement books

I learned that February is the library lovers’ month.  Many of us don’t visit libraries anymore, but still, keep our love for books.  In my case, I have a weak spot for continuous improvement books.  Books are an excellent way to learn, find inspiration, or have a good time.  My CI learning experience includes traditional classroom training, webinars, hands-on workshops, and others.  But my favorite way to learn more about CI is by reading books.  Perhaps, it is because I can go at my pace, reading, learning, and practicing.

Continuous improvement books

There are thousands of books about CI out there.  Although there are real gems, there are also some that are not very good.  As a result, finding the right one can be difficult.  Some publications are best suited for beginners, while others are for people with some experience.  

Here is a list of my favorite CI titles

  1. Gemba Kaizen by Masaaki Imai – This book is an introduction to kaizen and gemba.  Although the book contains all the traditional lean jargon, it is easy to read. In addition, includes various case studies including hospitals, product development, ground transportation, and logistics.  
  2. Lean Production Simplified by Pascal Dennis – The title says it all, it contains a simplified explanation of the lean system.  The book includes a description of various concepts like five S, visual management, standardize work, and others.
  3. The lean turnaround by Art Byrne – If you are an executive looking to start a culture transformation, this is the one for you.  It focuses on lean as a strategy to create value and transform the company.
  4. Lean Office and Service Simplified by Drew Locher – If you work in an office or service environment, look no further.  The author presents all lean principles and concepts from a non-manufacturing perspective.  He describes how to use tools like value-stream, standard work, flow, visual management, and others.  In addition, it provides several examples and implementation strategies.
  5. The Toyota Way to Service Excellence by Jeffrey K. Liker and Karyn Ross –   The authors explain how to use the lean principles, practices, and tools to provide better services.  Moreover, it contains case studies in various service industries.  The examples include financial services, telecommunications, health care, and insurance.
  6. People: A leader’s day-to-day guide to building, managing, and sustaining lean organizations by Robert Martichenko, Steve Gran, Roger Pearce, & 4 more – This book is a leaders’ guide to build and sustain a lean organization.  It provides guidance for all the tasks, activities, and behaviors a leader needs to transform the organization and get long-term success.  
  7. Lean Thinking by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones – This publication is a best seller classic.   It goes from the principles to lean thinking to action, presenting how to close the gap between customers and providers.  It also has case studies to explain those concepts.  One of them is Wiremold Company with Art Byrne as its president and CEO.  Yes, you are right, he is the author of the #3 on my list.

You read continuous improvement books, and then what?

The short answer to that question is that you learn, explore, and practice lean.  Learn new ways to do things.  Second, you explore how to apply those ways within your business.  Third, you keep learning by teaching others how to do it.  And third, you keep learning and practicing.  

The secret to a continuous improvement culture transformation is that lean, or CI, is a system, not a group of tools.  The focus should be on the people and the learning process.  One common mistake is to spend too much time learning and using tools.  Instead, focus on working with the people.  The real success is, being able to engage your team in CI.  That is to say, do not waste your time reading books unless you are committed to learn and teach.  

What else you can do?

To increase your learning opportunities, combine reading books with hands-on workshops and training.  For even better results, get a serious professional to help you along the journey.  We all need a coach or mentor to guide us through the challenging steps of transforming a culture.  Here in Better Process Solutions, we are ready to help.  Get in touch!

Lean thinking, what is it?

Lean thinking

I mentioned the phrase, lean thinking pretty often.  As I indicated before, the term was coined by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones.  It is used to describe the process of making business decisions based on Lean Principles.  

What are the principles of lean?

  1. Customer Value 
  2. Identify all the steps in the value stream and eliminate waste.
  3. Make the value-add steps flow.
  4. Let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
  5. Continuous Improvement 

The foundation of lean thinking

This list of principles is the foundation of the Lean system.  It is a collection of thoughts, behaviors, or propositions that guide what we had known as Lean Thinking.  

All effort directed to improve a process starts with identifying value from the customer lenses.  The continuous improvement goal is to deliver the Customer the highest product or service quality, at the lowest possible cost, in the shortest lead time.  Consequently, the focus of all our decisions is quality, cost, delivery, and people.  In other words, the focus is on those things that the customer value.

Process Improvement and the customer

If the focus is on customer value, then it is logical that the next step is to identify the value stream. That is to say, to identify all the steps from request to delivery and eliminate waste.  Waste is defined as those steps that do not add value.

The third principle is to make the value-add steps flow.  Eliminating delays, waiting time, and other sources of waste, the flow improves.  Therefore, the total process time would be shorter. Once this happens, let them pull value from the next upstream step.  That is to say, that your clients will indicate when they need more inventory.  Continuous improvement is the repetition of the first four principles.  Once you improve one process, standardize, train, and start improving again.

Lean thinking vs. traditional thinking

It is necessary to put aside old behaviors and ways to change the culture by embracing continuous improvement thinking.  To make decisions based on customer value and flow is not what you learned in business school.  Give your team the power to change things is not common either.

The table below presents various examples of each thinking type, side by side.  You will recognize some principles and behaviors that I mentioned in previous posts.  For example, to empower the team to improve their workplace versus bringing external resources.

Lean thinking vs traditional thinking

It takes time to get used to this type of thinking.  However, practice lean thinking every day, everywhere, by everybody is worth it.  Above all, your customers will notice the difference, and your business bottom-line will be better.

Would you like instant results in your improvement efforts?

Instant results for your continuous improvement efforts

These days people look for instant results. They want something, and they want it now! Some people have the same expectation for continuous improvement (CI).  Although they never say it out loud, they believe that CI will get them instant results.

Continuous improvement is a way of life.  It is a different way to think and do things.  Therefore, it comprises challenging prevailing ideas and learning new ones.  Reshaping your entire belief system for process improvement and problem-solving is not an easy task.  As a result, it cannot be quick or instant.

Instant Results and Continuous Improvement

I visualize continuous improvement as a marathon.  Through the CI system, you are looking to change people’s minds and hearts.  Lean or CI cannot be considered a tool or a short-term strategy to accomplish some goals.  It is a long-term commitment to which leadership focuses on developing people and create a team of problem-solvers.

Two heads are better than one

Two heads are better than one.  That is to say that it is easier for two people who help each other to solve a problem than it is for one person.  In a traditional setting, the manager and supervisors are fire-fighting all the time.  They take care of putting off a fire and run to the next one without learning about why it happened or how to fix it for good.  

Learning proper problem-solving and root cause analysis techniques is the best way to get out of that vicious cycle.  Better yet, grasp the new methods and teach your team how to do it.  Create a team of problem-solvers by empowering your people. Allow them to solve their daily problems while you coach and guide them. Let them be the source for most ideas and take ownership of the improvement process.

Permanent results, not instant ones, is what changes the culture

Continuous improvement is not a sprint race but a never-ending race. Change the mindset and culture takes time. Learning how to test new ideas and reflect on the results takes time as well.  Continuous improvement or kaizen is the daily practice of creating small changes.  It is possible to get big results with small changes. The time invested in using the scientific method to learn and reflect on the results guarantees a thoughtful process.  This thought process makes those results likely to be permanent, but it takes time and patience. 

In the time and age of clicking a button for instant purchases, a culture change is perceived as a big undertaking.  Well, it is a big undertaking.  There is no way to make this instant or fast while keeping the permanent aspect.  Create new habits and change our thinking process is slow rather than fast.  However, the practice of CI, everywhere, by everybody, every day will keep the momentum going and the changes sustainable.

Innovation and continuous improvement

Some people think that continuous improvement or lean conflicts with innovation.  In other words, that lean kills innovation.  However, that is not true both go hand in hand.  Let’s see how.

The power of innovation within continuous improvement

One critic about continuous improvement that I heard often is that the structure does not allow creativity.  CI indeed organizes the thinking process and has some core elements that are not negotiable.  On the other hand, it promotes skills development as a way to show respect.  And it is there where the innovation power of lean or continuous improvement resides.

How it works

To be able to empower your team, you need to develop the skills they need.  Hand-on training to learn the tools is not enough to succeed.  Self-discipline to behave and think the continuous improvement way is critical.  The structure provided by tools like PDCA and 5S helps to build that discipline.   

For example, the traditional way to solve problems is by using past experiences to guess the best solution.  But with PDCA, you have to define the problem by going where the problem happens to see for yourself, ask questions, and gather data.  It also uses promotes a team approach.  Various minds working together enriches both the problem definition and countermeasures identification.  

The most important lesson of PDCA occurs at the end of the process.  During the last step, act or adapt, you verify if the actions taken solved the problem.  It also encourages you to reflect upon the results, what work, and what didn’t.  The discussion of the lessons learned opens the gates of innovation by opening minds to endless opportunities.

Reflection

Reflection generates learning by making us look at our actions and their consequences.  Doing this requires looking at assumptions and reactions while examining the lessons learned.   The act of reflecting upon our actions also help to develop creative thinking skills.  

Once your mind starts to question how things work or how you can do it better, you will keep looking for answers.  Curiosity is the source of invention.  Being curious about things keeps your mind sharp on what happens or not.  Being curious opens your eyes to new ideas.

Engagement and innovation 

Boredom is a leading indicator of engagement.  Doing the same thing every day is boring.  And boredom kills engagement and consequently innovation.  They have time to think about how much they don’t like their work and start looking for a new one.  On the other hand, if they feel that their skills are valued and can visualize themselves growing with the company, their engagement increases.

One tenet of continuous improvement is to respect the people.  One way to show respect is to provide the environment and opportunities to learn new skills.  Being able to contribute to the company’s future in a meaningful way is a great motivator.  It will not only improve their work performance but also their attitude towards life.  A team member that finishes the workday feeling good about it will arrive home with much better humor.  Therefore, family time will be as rewarding and positive as it should be.

A mind free of work concerns and frustration is a mind ready to create and innovate!

Conclusion

CI does not restrict thinking.  On the contrary, it provides a way to standardize routine tasks, allowing time and energy to use their talents and creativity.  When they have the power to change and improve their workplace, they will engage in finding ways to improve.  With self-discipline, they will pursue daily small improvement steps.  With each step, their curiosity will grow.  And with it, the appetite for asking why and getting answers with data will grow as well.  As a result, they will have breakthrough ideas, new concepts, and ways to do things.  Curiosity is the source of invention. It is not a matter of whether innovation will happen, but when.