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Build a Strong Foundation for Success

As you develop your skills as a Lean Leader, you are building the foundation for success.  Success is your career and increased success in the areas you influence.

When you lead the implementation of Lead practices and principles, you create a positive influence in the following three areas:

  1. Your own team members
  2. The work climate
  3. The overall organisation

Your influence in the organisation:  Regardless of the size of your organisation, filling your position of leadership, calls for willingness to identify with your organisation’s purpose and values to support it with your attitudes and your actions, and to facilitate the positive changes needed to the organisation’s ongoing continuous improvement and success.

Regardless of the type of your organisation – whether it is a provider of services, a distributor of goods, or a manufacturer, you are expected first of all to get the best possible results through your people.  Given defined human and financial resources, you must reach certain productivity goals.  As well as inspiring and upskilling your people, you much constantly look to eliminate waste (non-value added activity or cost) through implementing Lean systems, practices and tools.

You are effective as a team leader only when you continue to improve the productivity and reduce the costs of producing your product or services.

Although your personality, characteristics and skills are important, your value to the organisation can be measured only how effectively you are fulfilling its mission and achieving cost-effective results.

Your influence on your own team members:  As a leader you must understand and embrace the needs and wants of the members of your work group.  If you concentrate exclusively on your own needs and goals, neglecting those of your team member, a deep rift in team relationships could develop.  If you’re achievement orientated, you may be tempted to boost your own self-esteem and even downplay the contributions to continuous improvement initiatives and projects made by other team members.  When other team members feel that their efforts have been ignored, or that their value is not appreciated, they can become disengaged.  Consequently, they feel less responsibility for being productive or contributing to further improvement activities and changes.   Avoid this destructive pattern at all costs.  When you and your team members enjoy the positive results of shared responsibility and recognition, you team will thrive and you will become an exceptional Lean Leader.  Remember, people go where they are wanted, but only stay where they are appreciated.

Your influence on the work climate:  When you adopt a no-limitations belief in each persons’ worth and potential, you begin coaching each team member with an enthusiasm that says “You can do it!”  Your confidence in them gives them maximum opportunity to grow, to meet their own needs and to contribute to the continuous improvement and success of your department or work group.  When you believe in the ability of people to identify positive changes and perform productively, your expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

People tend to live up to what’s expected of them by others, especially by those they consider authority figures.  When you demonstrate that you believe your team members can succeed, they are willing to take more growth risks and embrace change.  A no-limitations belief in people also makes it easier for you to delegate various responsibilities to them.  When you demonstrate your confidence in their ability to perform, they will accept the challenge and work harder to meet your expectations and provide them with the required training and support.

Embracing Change for Improvement

As a decision maker committed to reducing waste through leading continuous improvement thinking and practices in your organisation, you will be embracing change on a daily basis.

Change means risk to many people and there are several pitfalls and challenges that go hand in hand with change.  However, you can avoid these if you are willing to risk disturbing your own comfort levels when choosing to change.

Listed below are a few challenges that you should consider when making a changes for continuous improvement:

It will become necessary to defend yourself against traditional ways of thinking.  “We’ve always done it that way”.  You may have to do without approval from fellow workers for a time.  You may also encounter resistance, especially if you are young or new at the job.  Not only do some people instinctively resist chance, they may tell you that they are unable to learn a new procedure or change an old habit.  When you believe in your decision to change something, simply reinforce the need to change and the benefits of the change.  Remain calm and unemotional, but determined.  Be confident and lead by example.

People will be more likely to accept change when they see you embracing it with enthusiasm.  When they see you are thriving in a change environment, they will be more willing to take risks associated with a given change.  Let your team members know that change is inevitable.  Reassure them that both you and your organisation are committed to positive and proactive change for improvement.

Sometimes when seeing the extent of the changes required, it can seem completely overwhelming.  Often the overall change cannot be made in one easy step.  Usually multiple stages of change happen concurrently or in gradual steps and it is easy to forget that in life we rarely make the entire change in one attempt.  One of the best ways forward is to break larger continuous improvement projects down into smaller projects or action steps that can be embraced one at a time.  As a guiding rule – “For most people it is easier to embrace change when that change is gradual.”

Don’t be afraid to try new ideas or processes.  However, if you fail, fail in a correct way.  In many productive environments, people don’t understand the value of trying and failing.  This is unfortunate because failure, when done properly can be a good thing.  The correct way to fail means approaching change correctly, doing it quickly, at a low cost and never the same way twice.  You don’t want to have too much money or time hinging on any one change initiative.  If you do, then failure can be harmful, taking time and money away from other opportunities.  Testing your process on smaller scale projects allows for the risks to be lessened and the flow on effect to other areas to be reduced.  Don’t forget to learn from your failures so that you don’t repeat them in the future.

Change IS necessary and it’s NOT evil.  Lean to love it and you will be in a great position to succeed.  Leadership Management Australia has a variety of complementary resources which can be used to help support any change environment.

Sustainable change. Better results.

Today we are embracing a giant milestone event! We have refreshed the Think Perform brand and we are announcing the creation of Thrive Alliance, a brand joining together our group of companies.

Thrive Alliance is the umbrella brand that joins together our group of complimentary and specialised brands, all with the same purpose – creating exceptional results through people.

In itself, the name Thrive Alliance speaks to the vision for our group of companies and brands; an alliance of people, brands, products and services which empower our Participants and Client Organisations to thrive.

The launch of Thrive Alliance and the development and additions to the products and services offered, is a result of ongoing feedback from our Clients and Participants. We believe it is our responsibility as your trusted training and development partner to provide tried and tested development programs which deliver measurable results and R.O.I whilst innovating and releasing new tools and courses which satisfy a broader range of your needs and requirements. The Thrive Alliance Framework allows us to do just that.

So how does it all fit together?

THINK PERFORM – Empowering Continuous Improvement.

Sustainable Change. Better Results.

The proven best choice for empowering people to drive continuous improvement and to positively impact culture, results and the bottom line.


LMA – Leadership and Performance Development.

Empowered People. Better Results.
Leadership Management Australasia is the proven best choice for unlocking the potential in people to positively impact results and the bottom line.
THRIVE MORE – A range of best-in-class courses, tools and solutions to positively impact your people’s performance.

As opposed to the Premium Programs offered by LMA and Think Perform, Thrive More will offer short courses and workshops predominantly delivered over half, one or two days. At this stage, our Thrive More products include:

· Emotional Intelligence
· Productivity and Performance Improvement
· Lean Foundation Workshops
· Sales Foundation
· ….and many more to come


THRIVE PARTNERS – A network of complimentary trusted partners adding value to your business.

Our success over the years is because we have not tried to be all things to all people. However, we have many clients that ask us for recommendations to providers of products and services which are outside our offering. Over time, we will be growing a network of trusted Partners which can provide quality products and services to our clients when the need arises.

To find out more, call 1800 333 270 or click here to visit the Thrive Alliance Website.

There are many more improvements and new innovative initiatives scheduled for release in 2017-2018.

Stay tuned for more exciting news from Think Perform and Thrive Alliance!

Golden North



The Opportunity:

Based in regional South Australia with a rich history spanning over 90 years, Golden North identified the need to become more competitive as a means to better cope with increasing costs across the supply chain and manufacturing process.

“We needed to become more competitive,  this meant that we needed to identify opportunities to sustainably eliminate waste, specifically but not limited to production planning, overproduction, process flow, transportation and material waste. ” General Manager Peter Adamo

The Solution:

Golden North undertook Think Perform’s Manufacturing Excellence Program.  Participants  gained insight into removing wasteful activity from their workplace by application of appropriate Lean tools and continuous improvement.

The Result:

Together with Think Perform, Golden North has developed the ability to improve productivity, reduce waste and better manage their business processes by being open to change through implementing continuous improvement ideas into their workplace.

“From quick wins and projects we have realised $53, 277 in savings per annum and are in the process of making further improvements on site which will double the annual  savings” General Manager, Peter Adamo


CLICK HERE to view full case study.







The Opportunity:

Campagno recognised the need to become more competitive to better cope with increasing costs across the supply chain and manufacturing process.

“The Australian market is extremely competitive, downward pricing pressure is caused by overseas competitors, in addition to competition from local suppliers” General Manager Campagno, Paul Campagno

The Solution:

Campagno Engineering staff undertook Think Perform’s Manufacturing Excellence Program.  Participants  gained insight into removing wasteful activity from their workplace by application of appropriate Lean tools and continuous improvement.

The Result:

The engagement and foundation that was laid by the  Think Perform team has helped Campagno increase their ability to sustain changes made, leading to  better culture across the business.

“Having our staff skilled in Lean means we can focus on continuous improvement to drive efficiency, reduce production costs, focus on developing new products, expand into new domestic and overseas markets and promote our quality and clean credentials” General Manager Campagno, Paul Campagno

CLICK HERE to view full case study.




Lean Manufacturing: For Customer Satisfaction and a Healthy Bottom Line

Lean Manufacturing techniques can be applied to small, medium and large businesses and have been proven to boost profitability and customer satisfaction.

Everything within the Lean manufacturing model is aimed towards maintaining focus on the two key metrics of profitability and customer satisfaction in order to remain relevant and competitive.

What exactly is ‘Lean’? We can look at the general accepted Lean manufacturing definition for some clarity on the philosophy and the process behind it:

Lean manufacturing or Lean production (often simply ‘Lean’) is a systematic method for the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system. Lean is centered on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else.

Each facility and organisation will be different. However, adopting Lean manufacturing and working some effective Lean manufacturing courses company-wide into general operations will positively affect any given workforce with:

  • Improved profitability: Lean manufacturing makes it more possible for companies to save money of labour hours, resources and wasted stock
  • More efficient workforce: With a set of standard procedures, personnel can focus on what matters as opposed to activities that waste time such as looking for the right tool
  • Better service: In a more streamlined workspace, workers can direct their attention to their customers as opposed to fixing broken processes
  • Safer workplace: In a cleaner, safer work environment, workers are less at risk, more happy and therefore more productive

This division between what is waste and what is valuable is one of the first key points to get clear when we are talking about customer satisfaction and profitability. Based on the concept of Continuous Improvement, the process Lead thinking employs to simplify this segmentation process is one of constant searching for better ways to identify, analyse and resolve the issues around the existence of waste in the workplace.

Step 1 in Lean Manufacturing: Identifying Waste

What can be considered waste? In ‘Lean’, waste can take many forms and according to the philosophy of Continuous Improvement, waste always exists. To be truly Lean, the pursuit to reduce waste is a constant and ongoing one. While waste can appear in many forms, there are a few clearly defined types of waste that are considered to be the major issues in the way of achieving Lean manufacturing:

  1. Defects – Defects that result in rework or scrap can be a major cost to organisations
  2. Overproduction – Production that is made before it is needed or more products are made than required
  3. Waiting time – Time not used effectively is a waste. Idle time is often the result of poor planning or poor resource utilisation
  4. Not Utilising Employees – Not utilising people’s knowledge, skills and talent
  5. Transportation – Unnecessary transporting of products between processes adds no value to the product
  6. Inventory – Holding too much product or stock not being processed
  7. Motion – Unnecessary bending, stretching, walking and lifting by workers should be reduced
  8. Excess processing – Simple methods can replace lengthy detailed processes or operating procedures

Step 2 in Lean Manufacturing: Analyse and Sort

Once we are able to successfully identify where the source of the waste is, the next step is to better analyse and sort waste. While Lean is not so much about using a set of tools to implement large changes in one fell swoop, it is about fostering a continuous and sustained process of improvement across the entire organisation.

Keeping in the spirit of this ongoing process, a set of practices emerged initially from the key Japanese companies responsible for much Continuous Improvement and have begun working their way into much of the Lean manufacturing training appearing in more Western literature.

Lean Manufacturing 5S Philosophy

The five steps are based on five Japanese words and are focused on creating a safe, clean, and well-functioning workplace. A simplified explanation of the practice can be:

Sort: Remove unnecessary items form the work space. Attache removal tags to infrequently used items or items to be replaced.

Set: Customise the work area to improve overall efficiency. Keep important materials nearby and introduce visual organisation to assist a streamlined workflow and improved efficiency.

Shine: Keep the work area clean by finding sources of contamination and eliminating them.

Standardise: Assign tasks and create mutually agreed upon schedules so everyone knows their responsibilities and timetable.

Sustain: Ensure that 5S is a long-term, company-wide goal. Analyse results often, hold team mettings and train workers on the importance of Lean thinking.

Only one of several Lean tools, the Lean Manufacturing 5S practice as a whole is aimed at eliminating waste and instead creating value through facility and process organisation. No matter to what scale the Lean Manufacturing 5S practice is enforced, businesses both large and small can enjoy numerous benefits from adopting the methodology.

Step 3 in Lead Manufacturing: Resolve and Train

In terms of resolving the issue of waste, it is a key part of Lean to acknowledge that there is no end point to the process of reducing effort, time, space, cost and mistakes. In a true Lean transformative organisation, there will always be a need to return to the first stage and work through the entire process again.

However, a key part of sustainable Lean manufacturing lies in goal setting and training. For Lean to be its most effective, everyone needs to be involved in the process of identifying, analysing and sorting through waste issues.

This relates directly to the ‘Sustain’ step as part of the 5S philosophy; ensuring that Lean manufacturing training is a primary concern and goal company-wide is essential to maintaining the quality of work and the safety of the environment for all workers.

By identifying, analysing and reducing Waste in the workplace using Lean principles customer satisfaction will inevitably increase and do so profitably.


Can You Identify Waste in Your Business?

The most successful organisations in today’s competitive marketplace produce quality goods and services in a timely manner. They produce them for the least cost whilst creating the least amount of Waste. Manufacturers who have previously undertaken a Brisbane lean training course are now forward thinking organisations achieving consistent, sustainable  and profitable results. Lean Waste reduction, through identifying the 8 Wastes of lean, is one of the key initiatives that these Brisbane and Queensland organisations are using to improve their long term viability and profitability.

A high-quality product or service that meets the customers’ expectations is what all businesses aim to provide. To achieve this, businesses have to continually improve the way or the processes they use to make and deliver their products and services to their customers. They must do this for the same cost or for less cost than their competitors, and deliver them in line with customer requirements to remain competitive. Reducing all forms of Waste within production and other processes is the best way to achieve this.


Waste costs businesses and customer’s money. Competitive organisations systematically identify and remove Waste. To remove Waste, people must first understand what lean Waste principles are and where Waste exists. Waste identification and reduction is the core concept of Lean course in Brisbane. All lean tools are designed to either help people see Waste or help them reduce Waste.

An activity does not add value if the customer is not willing to pay for it, or to pay more money for it. Falling short of customer expectations is often caused by Waste. Going beyond their expectations can also create Waste. Often referred to as Non-Value Adding activities (NVA), Waste can be defined as any activity that the customer would be unwilling to pay for. Customers will not pay for quality they don’t need and they will not pay when the quality they require is not provided.

Removing Waste from processes is not only one of the best ways businesses can increase profits, it also improves safety. Reducing Waste can be viewed as pro-active hazard identification and elimination. Removing Waste always produces a safer workplace.


There are eight common forms of Waste. These can be easily remembered using the D O W N T I M E acronym.

D owntime
O verproduction
W aiting
N ot Utilising Employees
T ransport
I nventory
M otion
E xcessive Processing

Every person within a competitive organisation should be responsible for the identification and elimination of Waste. You will be using activity sheets to help you identify Waste within your own workplace. Remember, the most important step to eliminating Waste is learning how to recognise it.

You may find and want to eliminate some Wastes as soon as you identify them. Use the Low Cost/No Cost Ideas activity sheet to record Waste that is easily fixed. If these are simple and easy to fix – just fix them. Don’t Waste time when eliminating simple Waste.

Other Wastes may require further analysis to identify and eliminate the root cause. Do not make superficial changes if the root cause can be completely eliminated. Don’t automate or introduce changes that may only cover up the Waste.

First and foremost, learn to see the D O W N T I M E. As you complete a walk through your work area and a process mapping activity, your Facilitator will assist you to identify both simple and more complex types of Waste. Record these on your Waste Identification Sheet.


The Waste of Defects is one of the easiest Wastes to identify. Anything that makes a product or service less valuable to a customer or leads to rework, replacement, salvage or scrap can be considered a defect. If not addressed, this form of Waste can potentially lead to the loss of valued customers. Defects also create unnecessary costs through the time taken to replace or rework and inspect items a second time. For example, production runs sometimes have to be rescheduled in manufacturing businesses, which then impacts on other scheduled runs.


Overproduction occurs when a product is made or process is performed before it is required. Providing higher quality products or services than required is also considered Overproduction. Overproduction is a Waste because it includes:

• Causes delays in the flow of materials, products and information through the value chain
• Uses up unnecessary resources – raw materials, time, technology and human effort
• Increases the lead time
• Ties up money in unnecessary stock
• Uses storage space
• Leads to product being dumped or sold cheaply



Waiting is the easiest Waste to recognise. In all workplaces any time not used effectively is a Waste. The most common forms are Waiting for materials to arrive, Waiting for information to perform the task, and Waiting for the previous process to be completed. There are other forms of Waiting that can be just as costly. Idle time is created when anyone has to wait for information, approvals and decisions, and when teams have to wait for vacant positions to be filled.

Your organisation may have to pay for raw materials that wait to be processed and for people Waiting for machines, parts, information or other resources. The business can either charge more for what they make or be prepared to make a smaller profit. If customers have to wait for their product or service they may decide to choose another provider.

Once wait time has been identified, eliminating it is usually a straightforward process. Removing bottlenecks is a typical strategy used to reduce Waiting in processes. You may identify more than one bottleneck when you work with your team to undertake a process mapping activity in your work area.

Not Utilising Employees

Not utilising the knowledge and skills of employees is a major area of Waste. When people have greater skills and knowledge than their role requires, their potential contribution to the organisation is Wasted. Ways employees can be underutilised:

• They are not encouraged to identify problems and come up with ideas for improvement
• They are only using their core skill for a small percentage of their work day and wasting the rest of the day, Waiting, searching or walking
• They do not receive appropriate training to carry out the work they are employed to do
• They are not provided with the tools and resources they need to carry out their work efficiently and effectively.

When employees are not involved in improvement activities or problem solving, opportunities are lost. The best people to suggest and recommend changes and improvements to current systems and processes are actually the people doing the job.


Any time that materials, tools, work in progress or completed work are moved, Transportation occurs. While it is not possible to remove all Transportation from processes, it is possible to reduce the large amount of Transportation Waste that occurs in many organisations. Transportation is Wasted when:

• Materials and information are shifted many times – double handling
• Finished work is shifted multiple times
• Goods are Transported to a store before going to the customer
• Items are moved with unnecessary Transportation or in large batches

Transporting products between processes adds no value to the product. However, resources that cost money are used to move them. Movement not only contributes to Waiting time, it can also cause damage. Storage is costly and can sometimes cause quality to deteriorate. The need to Transport materials (and the associated costs of equipment and manpower) should be reduced wherever possible.


Inventory or stock is often identified as the most serious Waste as it hides and often creates other forms of Waste such as Defects, Overproduction, Transportation and Waiting. Stock that the company stores for any length of time can include:

• Raw materials
• Partly finished goods (WIP)
• Finished goods

Some accounting systems view Inventory as an asset, but it can also be seen as a liability if it has not been ordered or pre-sold. When components or parts are made a long time before they are needed, they have to be stored. When parts are made just before they are needed, the time they are in the Inventory is short, which normally reduces the need for Transportation.

As you complete the VSM activity, look for what excess Inventory is evident, and how it could be reduced.


Every time we are forced to move, stretch or go and search for a tool, part or information to do our job, we are wasting Motion. Motion Waste happens:

• When double handling occurs
• When information, tools and equipment are not stored at the point of use
• When products or materials are not stored at the point of use and in the correct quantities
• When you have to spend time searching for items or sorting through items for the correct one

Motion Waste can also cause Waiting if equipment needs to be adjusted or fixed or if products are being changed. It can also create considerable frustration if the correct information, part or tool cannot be found.

To reduce Motion Waste, review the amount of bending, stretching, walking and lifting that you and other team members are doing. An added advantage is that by avoiding unnecessary physical movement, employee health and safety is protected and time is not wasted.

Excessive Processing

In business environment, processing activities are typically viewed as value adding. However, this is not always the case. When you view your current processes from a Waste perspective, you may see that some steps are actually unnecessary or over-complicated. Some simple examples of over processing Waste are the use of excess packaging or creating both paper and electronic records to store the same information. Any steps that are unnecessary or over-complicated create Excessive Processing Waste. Excessive or unnecessary data entry or paperwork is another form of processing Waste. Excessive Processing Waste can include:

• Using excess energy and resources
• Adding unnecessary cost for no return on investment
• Creating yield losses and Waste materials
• Creating wear and tear on equipment
• Using employee time on tasks that do not add value

Creating a process map is one of the most useful tools that can be used to identify and eliminate over processing. When you and your team complete this activity, look for opportunities to consolidate, combine and streamline processes.

Empowering your employees with the required skills and tools to identify waste is a key component of Lean training.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your options.


Lean Training in Brisbane

A lean training course will focus on obtaining results and providing a process that will achieve the desired outcomes. Businesses across Queensland, including in and around Brisbane, are looking for effective ways to remain competitive. Many companies are feeling the pressure to deliver value to customers at affordable prices. Think Perform offers Lean training in Brisbane that can help in achieving this goal.

Upon course completion organisations will grow to understand how to increase customer value with minimal waste. To do so, there is a shift from optimising individual assets, technologies, and departments to using a process that optimises all simultaneously.

Lean Training In Brisbane

A lean training course for Brisbane and Queensland based organisations can vary to the rest of Australia based on geographic location and the environment in which the business operated. It is important, however, to focus on continuous improvement utilising a program that can be practically applied in your workplace.

To give you an overview of how a training course might look in your Queensland based organisation, we would first determine what exactly your organisation would like to achieve. In the initial stages, the training focuses on engaging with the leadership and culture of an organisation while allowing solutions to be created to achieve your unique desired outcomes. In fact, many companies choose to undergo the training and create their own title for the unique program they roll out across their organisation. What would yours say? Queensland Manufacturing Excellence?

What is Lean Training about?

Lean training involves the complete transformation of the way a business thinks and how the company is run. First and foremost, your organisation needs to determine how their customers define value. Only when this has been done can we determine which activities must be completed to deliver this value.

Three fundamental principles guide the lean process. First and foremost, customer problems must be identified and solved to allow the company to prosper. Each major value stream is then assessed to ensure it is capable, valuable, flexible, and adequate.

The flow of this process must be both efficient and productive to provide the desired results and a system must be established in order to meet the orders and needs of the client. Finally, this process must become an integral part of the workplace to ensure continuous improvement.

Finally, people within the organisation must be involved, with certain parties identified to handle the process and ensure it is ongoing. If even one principle is overlooked, the organisation won’t get the most from the process.

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Why choose Think Perform?

We are specialists in tailoring on site training specific to your businesses’ needs, regardless of geographic location. Whether you’re in Brisbane, Cairns or anywhere in Queensland or Australasia, we can help your business achieve better results.

Our approach has been tried and tested over the years. This approach focuses on helping businesses overcome any obstacles they are facing, making use of the strengths of the business together with the passion of the employees to produce the desired results.

By building on these two areas, businesses find they are able to make continuous improvements in the business, doing so by focusing on small changes that won’t detrimentally impact the practices and values of the company.

The approach used by Think Perform takes every employee in the organisation into consideration, as doing so allows value to be added at each level to ensure the long-term stability of changes.

Here at Think Perform we are known for producing exceptional results by placing personal development, individuals, and continuous improvement of the business at the core of the process, and our organisation brings more than 40 years of experience to each interaction.

Available Opportunities

The programs offered through the company are available nationally, and the team spends time in each client’s workplace, allowing employees to provide their input into the process.

This strong partnership and the customised change framework created for each client ensures a business can make use of the system for years to come.

Australia’s leading Lean trainers, Think Perform are currently offering Lean training in Brisbane. Contact us today and boost employee productivity and profitability sustainably.

Lean Training In Brisbane
Lean Training In Brisbane


How to properly define Continuous Improvement and its application in the workplace

How to properly define Continuous Improvement and its application in the workplace

Image of PDCA cycleIn today’s economic climate, many successful organisations are engaged in what is known as a Continuous Improvement process. This process is a philosophy which aims to improve an organisation’s productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability by using a proven approach known as the Plan, Do, Check & Act (PDCA) cycle.

Consider a production process where every week there was a small but helpful change implemented to the procedure. For example, a new and improved tool might be introduced one week, a new part which replaces two parts the next week, a new layout with easier to reach tools the next – and so on. Each of these changes are small, but these small incremental changes over time would greatly enhance the production process.

What is a Continuous Improvement Cycle?

A continuous improvement cycle provides a foundation for the implementation of a number of Lean tools which aim to improve organisational processes, services and products. Put simply, a continuous improvement cycle is one of the most successful means by which an organisation can achieve its long-term goals through design, strategy and application.

What is a Continuous Improvement Plan?

Generally, a Continuous Improvement plan it follows the PDCA cycle. The cycle begins with a strategy or plan, which is then implemented. When a predetermined amount of time has passed, the process is reviewed and evaluated. Depending upon the outcome, the plan is tweaked and the PDCA cycle begins again.

For example, imagine a car parts company that is frequently ending up with a lot of waste. During the plan phase, the employees could use lean tools like the 5 Whys or a Fishbone diagram to determine why this is happening. From here, they can develop a plan to reduce waste.

In the do stage, the employees implement the plan, which may involve a 5S blitz [link to 5s infographic] on their work area to improve efficiency and reduce waste. After a pre-defined period of time they would review and evaluate the effectiveness of their actions.

During the check phase they can measure whether their changes are reducing waste across the pre-defined areas marked for improvement e.g. reduction of defects, excessive production or waiting.

The act phase encourages employees to take action and implement any learnings in other areas of the workplace and continue to identify areas for improvement.

How does the PDCA cycle influence long term results?

Using the PDCA cycle is like a type of perpetual loop. It moves from planning, to implementation, to evaluation, to revision, and then back to planning and on again. It is precise and methodical. One of its key benefits is that it does not allow for organisational stagnation. Factors such as perceived vulnerabilities, areas for improvement, employee participation, and client satisfaction are monitored, measured, and manipulated to facilitate improvement. Many organisations have noted greater levels of improvement when employees who will be impacted by the changes under consideration are included in the planning and evaluation stages of the process.

How is a Successful Continuous Improvement Implementation Assessed?

The success of many business initiatives are frequently determined by profits. They can also be measured by factors such as increased competitiveness, sustainability, quality, safety, production and retention. Factors like loss reduction, client satisfaction and identification of waste are analysed when determining goals for organisational change. By comparing these statistics to baseline measurements, an organisation’s improvements are able to be statistically measured.

It is clear from looking at the history of successful companies that long term approaches, such as continuous improvement, cannot be abandoned if future growth is the objective. Click here to download a handy Plan, Do, Check, Act printable poster. Print it out and place it where your employees can read, review and memorise the cycle.

If your organisation is looking to improve profitability, competitiveness and sustainability, spend 3-5 minutes taking the Workplace Waste Analysis and you will be provided with a customised report to help identify and reduce waste in your workplace. Click here to take the analysis.

Factory workers being trained

What to Expect from a Continuous Improvement Training Course

Faced with increased competition and globalisation, organisations are charged with a pressing need to change and diversify if they are going to remain profitable and competitive. In addition, successful businesses must also have standardised and systematic methods of operating to enable:

  • Best practice operations
  • Ability to deliver products/services on time and in full
  • Capability of diversifying products/services to meet the changing market.

Taking inspiration from Japanese Lean improvement programs in organisations such as Toyota, a quality training program embeds the philosophy of ‘Continuous Improvement’ into the culture of an organisation and ensures Lean processes and systems are a part of the everyday running of businesses. The pursuit of improved performance revolves closely around enhancing existing systems and processes whilst introducing new ideas, skills and products.

Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness from the Ground Up

Continuous Improvement approaches have become fundamental to the effectiveness of modern business organisations. A high quality Continuous Improvement approach will target the following areas:

  • Upskill workers on how to identify waste
  • Implement actions to eliminate or reduce the wasted activity or process
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the change and take action to improve again.

An effective training program should go beyond the traditional classroom approach. Combining theoretical training with practical on the job activities provides great support to the learning process. The focus must be on implementing the tools learnt in the theory and demonstrating a measurable return on investment.

For example, hands on 5S training (an approach used in Lean Training guided by the philosophy of Continuous Improvement) involves classroom type lessons followed by a 5S blitz. During the blitz, changes are made to the immediate work environment to create the most effective ways to organise and maintain workspaces. The implemented 5S changes typically impact on workplace organisation, improved layout and flow, improved productivity and efficiency.

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Hands-On Empowerment of Employees, Driving Toward a Stronger Bottom Line

Effective Continuous Improvement programs also use on-site experts who help workers identify waste in systems and processes and implement corrective actions which result in sustained business improvement. The process cycle is referred to as the PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Act. It is a process of sustained Continuous Improvement that involves identifying an improvement opportunity and then:

  • developing a PLAN of action,
  • DO-ing or implementing the plan,
  • CHECK-ing the results of the implementation, how the business is tracking and setting up measures and breakpoints,
  • further ACT-ions required and a new Plan developed. Return to 1st step

This process of Continuous Improvement, Plan, Do, Check, Act, or ‘kaizen every day’ is about small incremental daily changes which result in major change over a long period of time.

Although Continuous Improvement is probably best known for its many successes in the manufacturing and logistics industries, a quality training program can be valuable for diverse industries.

Investments into this kind of training pay off over the short term in immediate productivity gains and reduced costs. Over the long term, employees become more engaged and consistently deliver improvements as part of their everyday work. Continuous Improvement becomes a way of maintaining competitive advantage and staying ahead of the competition to become market leaders.