Standards and routine
Basic principles of operations, such as standard procedures, implementation of 5S (Sort, Set, Shine, Standardise, Sustain) and using the elements of visual management are essential for any organisation.
Without this level in place, it is nearly impossible for any company to be successful in a competitive market.
No continuous improvement is possible without involving and engaging the people within the organisation. While the momentum comes from the leadership (top-down), it is every employee in the company who should eventually implement and sustain the process. This is why the change management approach is fundamental to the implementation of Continuous Improvement.
It may be argued now that ‘People’ should be at the very foundation of the pyramid, but we at PwC believe that, in fact, the implementation of basic standards should be done in parallel and so go hand in hand with people development.
This layer is event-triggered. Any organisation is faced with some kind of issue at any given time. The way in which an organisation reacts to these issues is critical. Normally, it is this layer that constitutes the core of Continuous Improvement, as it is all about identifying and solving the problems in a structured way.
Typically, the problem solving is done using one of the two frameworks: DMAIC (explained above) or PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act). The logic of these frameworks, however, is the same and is made up of the five components shown in the ‘Problem solving’ layer.
Maturity in each of these steps is critical to understand how the organisation is capable of overcoming issues.
As problems repeat themselves or have a significant negative impact on a company’s performance, innovation (such as Industry 4.0) can offer a radical and thorough solution. However, just having technologies available is not enough – the employees have to be ready to use them.
Since successfully implemented technologies inevitably reshape all the lower layers of the pyramid, from the very basic standards up, it is a never-ending journey, hence the wording “Continuous Improvement”.
The simplified structure shown above leads to the sustainable results. In our view, it is not possible to reach sustainable and ever-improving performance without implementing the previous layers first.