Foundation Principles Overview


There are a number of tools and stories that I tell to my clients, especially to those clients who have never done a formal continuous improvement process in their organization. This section is to introduce those stories and my perspective on how to do continuous process improvement. These tools, stories, and perspectives have proven useful whether you are improving a manufacturing process ora service process. In addition, they are also applicable to improving the information flows that drive the production /service flows. And finally, they are applicable as well to improving the processes that create both the information flows and the production / service flows.

Here is an overview of the basic tools I use in teaching and coaching Continuous Process Improvement.

  1. The first thing I teach is contained in the Four Basic Principles that I use throughout my consulting practice:
    1. Why versus How
    2. Continuous Improvement versus Instant Perfection
    3. “Development” versus “Mistakes”
    4. The System Is Never Done


  2. Next, we will discuss Continuous Process Improvement (CPI). There is a great deal already written about CPI. I use 4 tools to introduce to explain these concepts to my clients and to my students:
    1. The Plan Do Check Adjust (PDCA) cycle
    2. The Sluice Analogy
    3. The Helix – a more realistic and useful portrayal of the PDCA cycle
    4. Strategic CPI – How to select the strategically RIGHT (The “Central Constraint”)project for “Helix” application


  3. Next , we will visit the major approaches to CPI:
    1. Lean Thinking with it’s Value Stream Mapping tools as the Key to the Lean-Sigma toolbox and tips on Navigating Lean-Sigma Alphabet Soup.
    2. The Theory Of Constraints (TOC), and then we get into the topic of
    3. Melding Lean Thinking, 6 Sigma & Theory of Constraints because, you see, they each have strengths that complement one another!
    4. For further reading on these and related topics please see my Client Suggested Reading Library PDF.


  4. Finally, to wrap up Foundational Theory, I’ll introduce 2 additional topics that I use to explain process and organizational improvement to my clients and students:
    1. The Triple-Tiered-Z, or TTZ – This is a combination TOC and Lean Value-Stream tool that I use to teach organizational dynamics. And,
    2. The Schools of Lean Implementation– These are anecdotes that I use to illustrate specific methods or to debunk specific myths in the implementation of Lean/Sigma improvement projects.