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Three Simple Questions

Three Simple Questions

By Bob Sproull

Review

In my last post we discussed an important lesson I learned early in my career about how to use your senses to help solve problems.  In today’s post I want to talk about three basic, but necessary questions that every company should ask and answer before they embark on a continuous improvement effort. 

Three Basic Questions

All companies and organizations were created for a singular purpose.  If your company is one that manufactures consumable products, then your purpose is typically to design and produce products to satisfy a market need.  Generally your goal is to build your products for a profit that satisfies the needs of your shareholders.  If you don’t reach your goal, then you will not stay in business long.

From time to time, continuing to reach your goal will require changes in your processes or maybe even the policies that were probably developed years ago.  If you’re like most companies, your leadership team will meet, put together their ideas for an improvement initiative and then kick it off. Regrettably, many companies start their improvement initiative by simply making changes without thinking through and determining what changes should be made.  And when changes are made in this manner, the results achieved usually turn out to be disappointing.  So if this way doesn’t work well, then what should companies be doing?

Before I answer this question, it’s important to understand that global improvement is not the sum of all local improvements.  So what do I mean by that statement?  Quite simply, many companies work hard to improve isolated parts of their system and believe that by adding all of these improvements together, the system will automatically improve by that amount.  But as you will see shortly, such is not the case.  As I said earlier, most companies rush out and make changes without considering the holistic impact of their changes.

Ok, so what should companies be doing in the name of improvement?  Quite simply, there are three very simple and basic questions that must be asked and answered by the leadership team.  These three questions are:

  1. What to change?
  2. To what to change to?
  3. How to make the change(s) happen?

Next Time

In my next post we will focus our attention on the first of these three question, “What to change?”. 

Bob Sproull

About the author

Bob Sproull has helped businesses across the manufacturing spectrum improve their operations for more than 40 years.

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