Sustaining your Gains

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Successful continuous improvement events, such as Kaizen or Six Sigma projects, have a positive impact on your organization’s quality, efficiency, and profits. Additionally, these events empower employees and provide a sense of accomplishment to the teams and facilitators.

During the Continuous Improvement project, extra attention is given to supporting the process and the operator(s), insuring successful implementation of the improved process. Unfortunately, after the event is over, most of that special attention fades away, allowing the process to drift back toward the state prior to the event.

If this happens at your plant, you are not alone. Many organizations struggle to sustain the gains made during the continuous improvement events and often lose momentum behind their continuous improvement programs.

The staff at Insight Lean Solutions has discussed this issue with many continuous improvement facilitators. We believe the main reason that companies do not maintain all their improvement activity gains is due to a lack of monitoring change until it becomes habit. Studies show that it can take up to three months for employees to form new habits.

 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

— Aristotle

An easy way to sustain the gains of your organization’s improvement activities is to audit key elements of the new process to insure they do not change from shift to shift or over the course of time. Near the end of your activity, have your team develop a few audit questions for the key elements.

Every project, because they are different, will have unique questions. Your team may have questions concerning: number of operators, direction of process flow, where and how quality is verified, packaging, labeling, operator rotation, and direction of rotation.

Once you have developed the audit questions, your team may assist in determining who should complete the audits and frequency.  Best Practices is to manage this audit type in the same manner as a Layered Process Audit. Establish a process that will allow you to schedule audits, provide audit notification, maintain audit questions, record audit results, track non-conformances, corrective actions, and containment actions, and generate reports for top management.

The audit administrator, with facilitator input, should have the ability to increase or decrease the frequency of lean audits based on conformance of the process. In most cases, after a few months, the new process has become sustainable and lean audits may be stopped or transferred to an LPA and the responsibility of manufacturing.

LPA Admin is a lean process audit management application which uses lean principles to stream line your auditing process and provide real time notification when non-conformances occur. It is the perfect tool for sustaining continuous improvement activities without adding additional overhead to the process.

Please Contact Us if you have additional questions about this topic or would like a live demo of LPA Admin.

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