Rountable 4 – Would you rather have 3 good improvement activities or 1 great one?

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[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”” only_single=false]The ‘posters’ of the Lean Is Good blog have grown to four in number. Each of us brings a different background and set of experiences around Deming, lean, and learning. How could we leverage this diversity of thought and voice for the benefit of our readers? We ‘planned’ and came up with an idea that we could each briefly answer a question once a week. Today we ‘do’ it, and we will ‘check’ it after a couple weeks looking for a high rate of comments.   This is the fourth edition of the ’roundtable.’   The first three are here, here and here.   We will post a poll so that readers can interact when it is reasonable for the question asked. The order that the answers appear in will be randomized each time. Please join us by adding your comments. We would like to hear from you.

The question:

All else equal – would you get three quick improvement activities (70 % solutions) or 1 really great activity (95% solution)?

The answers:

Scott (posts)

I would go with the 70% solution if:

Multiple people / groups thought of the quick improvement/s

More groups / people would be involved / impacted during the activities

Quicker improvement

These 3 events through the organization could create another event that

becomes the 100% solution.

Bryan (posts)

I’m going to ride the fence on this one and start with it depends! I would take the 3 quick improvements over the 1 really great one in the majority of the cases. The reason being a three quick solutions completed quickly normally engages three times as many people. A 70% solution is still pretty good and gives the people involved momentum so even more gets completed. Gets the engagement and improvement rock rolling on its own faster.

The only time I would take the 95% solution would be around a safety or critical customer satisfaction situation, not unlike what Toyota is facing today!

Kim (posts)

Assuming it was 3 different types of activities vs. 1 type of activity. I have mixed feelings I like quick wins. There is a lot of low lying fruit out there that is ripe for the picking. If the activity is not developed properly the long term benefit may be lost. I really like getting taking the time to get things to remain with people at a cognitive level.

Bruce (posts)

I would generally prefer the 3 quick activities.  You get the advantages of:

  1. Speed
  2. Each subsequent activity can be based on new information sucked in during previous activity allowing the ‘reality’ to be reassessed, and the new information can be used to ‘challenge’ the original model (from the plan phase)  if necessary.
  3. Three learning opportunities vs one.
  4. Three quick activities probably involve more people than one activity does.  This allows more engagement and more chances for ideas to come out.
Occasionally there will probably be the need for putting all your eggs in one basket.  Major capital projects, Design for Six Sigma projects might be examples.  Even then I would try to embed iterative loops (try-storming maybe) inside the ‘one big activity.
I have seen a six month six sigma project on reducing changeover time get its butt kicked by 3 week long or less QCO activities.

Those are our answers.  We would really like to here from you in the comments below.

Last week we asked readers to rate the level of engagement in their organization on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being a low level of engagement and 5 being a high level.  Bad news, our readers obviously don’t feel engaged.


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One Response

  1. I would take 3 good over 1 big one becaue this can be a stepping stone to use to encourage other improvements by showing that small success can lead to big results over a short period of time. This is the basis for Kaizen,and this will be easier for team members to use as an improvement tool as they see things in a smaller view vs Big improvements on average.

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