JANUARY 2016 The FABRICATOR 53
improvement suggestion. All of this
should be highly visible, with the inputs and results posted on CI boards
throughout the company.
Be sure to categorize initiatives according to defined variables. These
depend on the company and specific operation, but they can include
a project’s complexity (how easy or
difficult it is to achieve); the cost and
time required; affected operations or
departments; and the benefit in terms
of savings, quality, safety, throughput, and cycle time.
CI boards should show the status of
these initiatives, there for everyone to
see. Visibility is critical for CI success,
and it’s almost always missing in initiatives that fail. It shows the company’s commitment to CI and ensures it
is properly managed and attended to.
I believe there should be a fourth postulate to CI: Nobody expects you to do
all improvement initiatives at once,
but people do expect you to do
Having proper layering and organization sets the stage for CI success.
People make suggestions, and ideas
are vetted and prioritized according to whatever criteria the company
deems appropriate. All that’s left is
execution—in other words, actually
The most common complaint I hear
about ineffective CI is that nothing
ever happens. Part of the blame is attributed to serious defects in layering
or organization. But even if they were
done properly, execution can fail.
The primary reason is simple: The
initiative has no serious assignment
of actual responsibility or accountability. The solution generally is also
fairly simple: Map responsibility to
Operators generally are responsible
for improving their operation, supervisors their department. When they require outside assistance, the next layer up is responsible for resolving this.
Proper prioritization and assignments by layers helps avoid the black-hole syndrome that is the ultimate
killer of CI: lots of input, at least initially, but no results. This is the root
cause of “trained indifference” to CI.
The collective mood becomes “Why
bother?” This is totally preventable, even in the leanest of
Execution of CI cannot be on a when-I-get-around-to-it
basis. Nobody ever “gets around to it.” We must demand
and manage CI as any other core company process. As I’ve
written many times before, saying you don’t have time for
improvement is like saying you don’t have time to exist.
Pillars of Practical Improvement
The keys to CI success are layering, organization, and ex-
ecution. The first two are critical to the third and, therefore,
For many in this economy, it is unlikely large sales in-
creases will drive up profits anytime soon. This makes in-
ternal improvement extraordinarily important. It’s time to
revisit your CI process, and it’s time to do it right.
Dick Kallage is principal of KDC & Associates Ltd., 522 S. Northwest Highway, Suite UL- 8, Barrington, IL 60010, 847-525-6109, www.kdcconsultants.
com. Kallage serves on the Management Advisory Council of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International®. For more information,
visit www.fmanet.org/training or call 888-394-4362.