Continuous Improvement : Unclog the Arteries

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

Blast from the Past
Continuous Improvement : Unclog the Arteries
Torben K Nielsen
Capital Quality News, January 1993

One of the cornerstones in quality management is the ability to continuously improve operations by doing such things as reduce costs, reduce waste, use resources more efficiently, design to clearly define requirements and deliver a product or a service which meets or preferably exceeds the demands of the customer. Now that the Quality revolution in Canada has been in progress for some five years, you may ask : « So what’s happening, are we getting ahead? » The answer is «  not enough!»

But there is more to come, much more.  If you have read or started reading (834 pages) Tom Peters new book « Liberation Management », you will realize that the world is indeed amidst a full-blown Quality Management revolution and entirely new strategies are being implemented, waving goodbye to much of the organizational waste we have seen in recent decades. Middle managers are on the way out and more people will have to become leaders in a new sense; this is why managing organizations of the nineties is so much about leadership.

Organizations need new initiatives and new ideas and there are yet too many obstacles which hold back the free flow of iniatives. The arteries must be unclogged.

In the coming three issues of Capital Quality, I will address some key areas, which in my opinion, are crucial to building quality conscious organizations, utilize and improve people skills and increase productivity.  The first part in this series is titled « Create a Forum for New Ideas »

There is a wealth of ideas among people in any organization.  Far too often, however, there is no effective way to make these ideas generally known and available for implementation.  There is an ingrown apprehension which prohibits a free discussion due to such things as fear of « stepping out of line », losing ones’ job, reprisals, etc.  Many good initiatives, therefore, never reach their destination.

Using normal management routes, all too often proves fruitless, especially if an initiative needs to be addressed with leaders who are two or three levels above the direct management.  Most conventional supervisors/managers will first ask themselves if the proposed initiative in any way can be detrimental to their own interests or even be embarrassing.  The top boss might say : «  Why didn’t you come upon this idea yourself? »

The answer to this problem is to open up communication lines and create a forum where any member in the organization can present an initiative or discuss an idea.  How this forum is formed and controlled will depend on the size of the organization and the kind of people it has available for such a function.  In smaller operations, the owner/operator may choose to lead the Forum.  If a situation calls for expert involvement, anybody in the organization could be called in to lead or participate in the discussion.

The  important  point is that all members in the organization have an opportunity to participate and contribute ideas in a way in which they feel comfortable.  The result will be an organization that benefits through continuous improvement- an organization that  moves forward.



Ruth Stanley

The post has been contributed by Ruth Stanley, Chair, ASQOttawa Valley Section. You can contact Ruth using our contact form.


[sm_smlts_fancybutton size=”small” color=”orange” url=”” icon=”image: house”]ASQ Ottawa[/sm_smlts_fancybutton]