Business Center

Local Process Improvement


This Quick Start Guide is intended to help Managers improve the performance of processes within their organizations: local process improvement. This Quick Start Guide is used in conjunction with the A3 process improvement and problem-solving method (from the “Tools” location above); the books referenced above can provide other useful tools, too. However, the most important step is to start.

Five important questions that every leader should be asking, every day (p. 93 in Widgets)

  1. What results are we trying to achieve?
  2. How would we know if we were achieving them?
  3. What strategies are we using to achieve those results?
  4. Are these strategies working (and, how do we know)?
  5. What do we need to do differently to achieve these results?

Part A:  Getting ready for improvement: Daily monitoring and management of group performance

1. Identify the deliverables (“widgets”) that your group produces and provides to customers, and the results you are trying to achieve with each. (pp. 30-36 in Widgets)

2. For each deliverable: how do you know whether your group is achieving the results that you need to? (pp. 50-51 in Widgets)

If you do not already have measures (metrics), develop a set of 3 to 5 objective measures (with targets!) that will proactively tell you and your team how well you are meeting customer priorities. Refer to the “Managers’ Quick Start Guide to Organizational Performance and Process Measurement” (available on the Tools website).

3. Daily: conduct quick (5 to 10 minute) “huddles” for your group, ideally every day. These quick meetings provide a forum where you and your team review 1) performance and process measures and 2) progress of improvement actions. Many CDOT Managers already conduct daily meetings.

Work with your people every day to develop improvement ideas and engage them to implement these ideas: “As you all were working over the past week, what opportunities for improvement did you notice?”
Refer to the “Manager’s Quick Start Guide for Engaging Employees Through Everyday Ideas” for additional guidance. (available on the Tools website).

4. Initiate 5S/6S improvement for your organization 6S assessment and guidance available on Tools, Readings, and Submittals page.

Part B: Starting Improvement

0. ENSURE THAT YOU WORKING ON “PART A” ABOVE – Identify deliverables; establish measurement; monitor your progress; conduct group huddles; and engage your people to develop and implement ideas.

1. IDENTIFY A KEY DELIVERABLE - Identify at least one key deliverable (“widget”) from your group to improve (deliverables identified in Part A above). (pp. 30-36 in Widgets)

2. IDENTIFY CUSTOMER VALID REQUIREMENTS - Identify the customers for that deliverable (pp. 53-84 in Widgets). Focus on the end-use customers, and conduct focus groups or interviews with customers (emphasizing the end-user customer), or utilize other means to determine the customer’s valid requirements for that deliverable.

3. START YOUR IMPROVEMENT EFFORT - Start improving how your group provides that deliverable to that customer. This can start by simply asking your next staff, crew or team meeting (huddle): “As you, all were working, what opportunities for improvement did you notice? Be sure to visibly display your improvement effort visible using an A3 progress summary or through other means; refer to the A3 process improvement method (Tools).

4. BE CLEAR WITH YOUR REASON FOR IMPROVEMENT - Develop a compelling reason for the improvement, based on the 1) feedback from the customers you heard from and 2) your current performance. Visibly display that.

5. IDENTIFY PEOPLE WHO WILL CREATE THE IMPROVEMENT - Identify who from your Team will work on the improvement effort, and let them know that you are the Sponsor of this improvement. Visibly display that, along with the name of the improvement effort, the primary customer, and the date. Be sure to provide the people working on the effort with sufficient time to do the work.

6. IDENTIFY YOUR INITIAL (CURRENT) STATE - Identify your current state, and visibly display that.

If your group does not already have measures (metrics), stop and develop a set of objective measures (with targets!) that will proactively tell you and your team how well you are meeting customer priorities for that deliverable. Refer to the “Managers’ Quick Start Guide to Organizational Performance and Process Measurement” (Tools).

7. SET YOUR TARGET - Develop the target that you are aiming for: how much improvement do you want/need to achieve, and then visibly display that.

8. CONDUCT GAP ANALYSIS - Analyze the work process for the deliverable you identified: why is there a gap between your Initial State (current state) and your Target State (p. 65 in Widgets; and Tools). Visibly display that.

9. DEVELOP SOLUTIONS AND AN IMPLEMENTATION PLAN - Develop innovative alternatives that can better accomplish customer outcomes. Identify ways to close the gap between the current experience of customers and the targets you have set for improving the customer’s experience. And, develop an implementation plan.  (p. 99 in Widgets; pp. 113-149 in Makeover; and Tools). Visibly display the solutions and your implementation plan.

10. TEST YOUR SOLUTIONS – As appropriate, test (experiment with) your solutions first, to ensure that they will work.  Visibly display the results of your tests.

11. COMPLETE IMPLEMENTATION - Based on what you learned from your tests, modify your implementation plan as needed, and implement everything on your Implementation Plan. Visibly display that.

12. EVALUATE IMPLEMENTATION - Monitor your progress as you implement. Compare your results with what you wanted to achieve: has the gap between the Initial State and the Target State been closed? Adjust your implementation plan as needed, and visibly display the results.

13. DEVELOP AND SHARE INSIGHT - Celebrate your success, write a brief success story, and develop “insights” that you will proactively share with others. And, visibly display this.

THEN, START THE NEXT IMPROVEMENT - Go on to the next improvement challenge for your group (starting at Step 0 above).

“Improving the systems of our organizations should be part of what we do every day, not something else” (p. 105 in Widgets)