What is a continuous improvement project

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Continuous Improvement Project


A CI project is an opportunity or a problem with NO defined solution. Because we don’t have a defined solution, we’re going to focus on solving problems the RIGHT way. This gives you an opportunity to fully explore the root cause of a problem, to listen to the voice of the customer, to engage stakeholders in uncovering challenges and to engage a project team in finding the best solution to the problem. 

Problem vs Opportunity


Continuous improvement projects come in the form of opportunities or problems.

Opportunity: we have a new and exciting opportunity to better serve our customers. You may want to:

  • Consider offering a new product or expand a service into a new market
  • Evaluate a new emerging technology that could create efficiency or provide great benefits to the customer
  • Leverage an opportunity to increase revenue

Problem: a process is broken, inefficient, or ineffective (or just plain frustrating). A process has wasted time, money, or materials. You may want to:

  • Reduce the time it takes to complete a process so employees can focus on more-valued added tasks
  • Identify ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality
  • Improve the quality of customer service and increase customer engagement 

Finding Your Project


When you fully embrace a continuous improvement mindset, you will find problems and opportunities are abundant!

So, how to find CI projects? 

Every day, simply ask yourself:

- What frustrates you?
- Where are we failing to meet goals?
- Where do you see wasted time?
- Where do you see untapped opportunities?
- When were you unable to meet customer expectations or needs?

Anytime your hear yourself or your teammates say these things, document it in your Opportunity Log:

- This process is frustrating!
- The way we do this is so hard (is time consuming, has errors, seems wasteful)!
- We're so disorganized.
- My customers are frustrated or unhappy.
- Our results are unpredictable.
- Well, that's the way we've always done it!

When you add this questioning to your daily activities, you'll find endless problems and opportunities. 

Ask yourself these questions as a part of your daily routine.
Download the Opportunity Log to track your ideas.

Spirit of Continuous Improvement


The spirit of continuous improvement is to constantly seek these problems and opportunities and then tackle them using a structured problem solving approach!

Project management vs Continuous Improvement


People sometimes confuse project management with continuous improvement. Here's the difference:

Project management: You have a project with a defined solution. The goal is to meet all of the project’s requirements, while staying on-scope, on-time and on-budget.

Continuous Improvement: You have a project with NO defined solution. You're probably not sure what's causing the problem, so you're going to dig into the root cause, evaluate alternative approaches and bring people together to figure out the best way forward.

Depending on the scale and scope of the recommended solution for a continuous improvement project, it may result in the need for project management.

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