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Continuous Improvement Programme Design

Continuous Improvement Gold Nuggets 3 Key Questions 3 Types of Change, Disruption, Transformation and Incremental 3 Levels of Responsibility Project Prioritisation Grid

10 Elements to a Successful and Sustainable Programme

iModel for Continuous Improvement


Start with the end in mind. Your aim might be to build a continuous improvement culture within your organsiation. Which you translate as daily problem solving; every person, every process, every day.

Note that we do not specify any improvement method at this stage, that comes under the segment on How? and could feasibly change as you progress towards your vision.

Values or Principles

State the things that you believe in. As an example, the principles of Practical Process Improvement are...

  1. Logical Simplicity
  2. Practical Tools and Methods
  3. Involve Everyone
This allows everyone to make the right decisions; e.g. if you believe in Logical Simplicity, then everyone should understand that there is no need to implement advanced statistical methods.


How do you want people to act when no-one is looking? This is the culture that you are trying to build and is the result of how well you implement the other 9 elements of the programme. If you want team based problem solving, then this is incongruous with performance management that rewards individuals. If you want daily problem solving, then it is counter-productive to name, blame and shame the people who identify problems (the problems are your golden nuggets).


Only after you have defined the overall purpose of your programme is it appropriate to decide how you will achieve that vision. This means running team based improvement projects and you will need to select a method for the teams to use. Simply throwing a team together without telling them how you want the problem solved will only result in sub-optimisation or, worse, complete chaos.

The method might be Practical Process Improvement (PPI) for the service and administration parts of the organisation (hidden processes) and lean for the manufacturing, assembly and engineering parts (visible processes). Click here for more imformation on selecting an improvement methodology.


The decisions on how you will implement your improvement programme will define the organisational structure you need to make it all work. Defining the roles and responsibilities is critical. Who will co-ordinate the programme? This is usually a leadership team (Steering Committee). Who will perform the training? Is this an outside agency, or will you recruit these skills or put existing staff through a train the trainer class? It is better to avoid creating an elite improvement team; see Send in the A-Team for more information.

Key Skills

What skills will your organsiation need? This could be facilitation or data analysis or communication of benefits etc. Normally, you will need to train everyone on the chosen improvement methodology, preferably while they complete a project. You could use an external training company (such as Simple Improvement), but it is best if this is based on a train the trainer model, so that the training skills are transfered into your organisation. The idea is to have everyone involved in daily problem solving, so they will need initial training, but, hopefully, not after that.

Project Plans

The third segment of the i-Model gets down into the detailed planning of what projects to run, who will do the training, what is the schedule, what room is available etc.


What is the process for collecting problems (or areas for improvement), running the projects, collating the benefits etc. It is very helpful to map these processes and ensure that everyone knows who is responsible for each step.

It is a good idea to have a funnel of potential projects and the prioritisation should be based on easier, faster, better and cheaper (in that order).


The metrics should be a direct measure of the processes. And the best single metric is the number of completed projects. This avoids the danger of focussing on the outcomes, such as cost savings.

Review and Learning

What meeting structure will you put in place to review past projects, monitor current projects and prioritise the funnel of future projects? Normally, this involves a leadership Steering Committee meeting (once a month), programme review (once a week) and project reviews (daily). Running effective and efficient meetings is very important and each meeting should conclude with a Wrap-up to capture what went well and areas for improvement; i.e. practice continuous improvement at all times.

Send us an e-mail to get some help designing your own programme or to review an existing programme.