By Burkhardt Prigge, Kepner-Tregoe

Everybody knows continuous improvement is a necessary part of optimizing manufacturing processes and from time to time large process re-engineering is necessary.  Sometimes, though, incremental improvements aren’t enough to get the results you need, but the challenge/opportunity isn’t big enough for a full-blown re-engineering effort.  When this happens, there is a need for substantial step-change improvements to get your operations performing at the level that your company expects.  Just like “one size fits all” doesn’t work well for clothes, an effective operations improvement strategy needs some Small, Medium, Large options, too!

Small – Continuous Improvement

While Continuous Improvement started out as an overarching concept, it has evolved with modern concepts like Agile to represent small, incremental changes to operations akin to more of a continuous refinement cycle.  Many frequent changes are made so the company can recognize value from improvements quickly.  The increased speed of delivery necessitates that the scope of these changes be kept simple and risk profiles be as low as possible. 

Large – Re-engineering

Highly impactful improvement projects may require transformative (and potentially disruptive) change.  Re-engineering methodologies provide a structured approach to implementing large changes and migrating operations to a new state effectively.  These large projects can be both costly and time consuming – meaning that companies need to be confident of the ROI before they commit to the effort and get started.

Medium – Step-Change improvements

Many of the improvement opportunities identified as part of Lean and 6 Sigma analysis efforts don’t fit well into the Continuous Improvement and Re-engineering models.  Something in the middle is needed.  You aren’t just refining what is already there and you aren’t re-engineering the whole process – step-change improvements may include things like reconfiguring a workflow, swapping out some parts, or implementing new capabilities.  These require thoughtful planning to execute well and improve upon the existing systems and processes that are in place.

Complementary methodologies to drive peak performance

Most companies have some sort of Continuous Improvement and Re-engineering practices in place today but many are missing the mid-size opportunities of those improvements that fall somewhere between them. A Step-Change improvement methodology could be the missing piece to round out your operations improvement strategy.  There is no need to discard the methods and practices you have in place today – they are still necessary.  But by adding another tool to your improvement toolkit you will be better equipped to pick the right tool for the job.   Kepner-Tregoe has developed a 3 phase Step Change Intervention methodology to help companies Diagnose, Implement and Sustain Step-Change improvements in their environments.   A strategy that leverages complementary methodologies is the key to driving peak performance in your manufacturing operations. 

Interested in other views on Continuous Improvement? View any of the links below.

Building Continuous Improvement into your DNA

The Path to Operational Excellence

Or take a look at all of our Operational Excellence White Papers

About Kepner-Tregoe

For more than six decades, Kepner-Tregoe has empowered organizations through a proven, structured approach to problem-solving. As the leader in problem-solving, KT has helped thousands of organizations solve millions of problems through more effective root cause analysis and decision-making skills. Through our unique blend of training and consulting, our clients demonstrate improved efficiency, higher quality and greater customer satisfaction while reducing their costs. KT’s experience-based learning methods integrating tools such as simulations and mentoring of in-tact teams have led to countless success stories for companies just like yours.  To learn more, visit www.kepner-tregoe.com