Your first step is to look at the organization and have its members identify areas for improvement. While this may seem obvious, there are many times where companies skip this investigation and invest time and money to fix a process, only to discover later that the process is no longer needed, or that it was a symptom of something else. Then, the project cannot be completed without taking a large step backward to see where things went off track.

When you are getting ready to determine areas for improvement, ask questions such as:

  • How many of our people and our customers does this process effect?
  • How much time is being spent (wasted) due to the problems with this current process?
  • What measurable gains are there if we improve this process (in terms of money, time, or speed)?
  • Who else would be impacted by changes to this process and what will that mean? (Consider internal departments as well as suppliers and others along the supply/value chain.)
  • Is the effort required justified by forming a new process?

Since continuous improvement involves the whole organization, you’ll need to decide collaboratively on what initiative(s) will receive attention and in what order. Lean principles can help your team choose the most worthy projects and determine what your focus will be.