The less than sexy bits of Continuous Improvement

sweat equity

What does Virtual SQI Look like? Well maybe a more appropriate question is what are the less than sexy parts of making work better? 

Its alot like having a big ole party. You spend a bunch of time organizing the thing, anticipate the fun and the memories youre gonna share, but you still gotta do the clean upπŸ‘Ž

Yes, I said it its not just fun and games.

Its like mom said, if you wanna go play you gotta clean your room. The upside about the "cleaning your room part" is its the thing that helps us lock in the improvement and scale the impact to other crews and other projects.

Lets start with capturing the "Current State". This is a step that continuous improvement folk often skip, well at least the ones like me, and skipping the step makes it super hard to quantify the actual gains from the improvement effort. And in Virtual SQI it sets the direction for the improvement efforts. The most significant thing for me is identifying the "HARD WORK" and letting the hard work drive the improvement effort. Why you ask? well because:

  • there is "HARD WORK"  in Value added steps
  • there is "HARD WORK" in Incidental steps
  • there is "HARD WORK" in Waste

and more importantly removing hard work is a demonstration of respect for people.

After we tease out all the steps, label them, and capture the time for each step; we now have facts to attack. We now know precisely how many seconds the operators are stuck in crappy work. Studying the work at the micro-level helps us understand how to make work better for the men and women doing the work.

Now we get to start having fun. After visualizing the current state, we jump into the improvement strategy. In this phase it is recommended to let loose and get creative about what we could to improve the work. All the ideas are put into 3 buckets:

  • Do it now 
  • Short term
  • Long term

We think through the intended impact each improvement could have and use those estimations to set the "Target State"

and now, the moment we've all bee waiting for.........

We get to put some Sweat Equity into making the work better, we get to serve the installers by gathering up the tools, materials, & equipment to test out our ideas. We get to put them into play and see if they really work. Im gonna tell you this is experience is transformative, you best  be ready for some emotions and conviction.

After we test out the improvement ideas, we go back and measure againπŸ˜“ While its not as fun it is a critical step. Doing this step helps quantify the impact, it helps us understand how close we are to hitting the target and align resources to meet or beat the goal.

Then we document the Countermeasures. Thats a fancy word for the cool stuff we did to make the work better. This is another one of them not so sexy steps but it helps us lock in the awesomeness! We now have assets to use in introducing new people to the process, measure adherence to the process, and a basis to improve upon. My buddy Sean Moran calls it "The New Best Way"

If you are an action biased person, aka hyper like me, this part will take a lot of discipline to complete. The one thing that keeps me focused is knowing that buckling down and doing the no fun part sets me up to spread the new better way. Better for the operator and better for the business.

Lastly we produce the action plan, this is a light lift. Its as easy as documenting all the improvement ideas. This is important because some of the ideas are big and require coordination, approvals, maybe even a bigger investment. So putting that on the board helps keep the dream alive.

So yes its all fun and games, until you gotta clean your room. But like most things the biggest results come from buckling down and doing the not so glamorous work.

If you got what it takes to put your head down and bang out stinky tasks for the purpose of making work more productive you should sign up for the next cohort of Virtual SQI. 

Join the waiting list at 

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