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Continuous Improvement Development Guide

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Continuous Improvement Development Guide (TM)

VOLUME II: Committing

During Phase 2 of our Continuous Improvement Development System, you will fully commit to making changes to the way your company does business. You will take the first actions on your path to creating a culture of continuous improvement embedded into a business management system.

The focus in this phase tends to be on senior managers. It makes a lot of sense. The vast majority of CI initiatives fail to deliver as promised. Something in the neighborhood of three quarters of CI journeys end in disappointment. Many of these failures come as a result of senior leaders trying to force change in their teams without changing their management style at all.

In Phase 1, the emphasis was on learning and ‘pulling the trigger’. Now, though, you have to jump right in and start planning and doing. You’ll have to start out by creating an action plan for this phase. You’ll also be asked to map out your multi-year plan in general terms. The goal is to open your eyes to the extent of the changes you’ll have to make in how you do business.

Committing also means allocating funds. With the action plan in place, you should get a better understanding of the costs associated with this change. While in the long term, you’ll save a lot, there are some up front costs to creating your systems. Your company has to very quickly put its money where its mouth is. The first big cost is paying for the program leader you selected as you closed out Phase 1. That person will be swamped early on, so it cannot be a part-time role.

There will also be training for senior team members. You’ll get a feeling for their commitment to change by their attendance. If there are numerous no-shows this early on, you’ll struggle to get traction throughout all phases.

You should wrap up Phase 2 with a committed leadership team, a shared understanding of where the company is and where it is going, and a strong person leading the charge.


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Phase Information


Varies, but should be as quick as possible.

None of the steps in this phase take a particularly long time, but the level of commitment will affect the lead time to start the steps. For example, one of the steps is executive rollout training. If the senior leadership team is committed, they will make time. If they aren’t, it can take weeks to align their calendars to get them in a room together. The longer this phase takes, the lower the chance of success in building a new business system.

Tools and Topics (Highlights)

  • Key corporate documents (Mission Statement, Core Values, Strategy)
  • Lean Overview
  • Systems vs. Tools
  • Continuous Improvement Philosophies (Lean, Six Sigma, etc.)
  • History/Toyota’s Role
  • Company Assessments
  • Costs and Savings
  • Change Management
  • Lean Management
  • Gemba
  • Introduction to Metrics

Phase 2 Principles

Key Gates/Tasks/Milestones

  1. Complete phase action plan
  2. Complete general roadmap for all phases
  3. Complete key company documents
  4. ID mentors and train key leaders
  5. Establish continuous improvement metrics
  6. Revise budget
  7. Communicate changes to team
  8. Create a project area/workshop

The complete Phase 2 Checklist is available for free download (member version) or purchase (full version).

Practical Guide Directory

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