A strong improvement proposal is the basis for every improvement process. The right problem description takes you one step closer to the solution. So how do you make a strong improvement proposal?
What is an improvement proposal?
Simply put, an improvement proposal is an initiative to change something, with the intention to improve it. It’s the first step of the Kaizen method, entirely focused on improving. Kaizen uses the Plan-Do-Check-Act principle of the Deming Circle: identify a problem, find a solution, secure the solution using an improvement standard, and grow toward the next step in the improvement process.
When do you use an improvement proposal?
An improvement proposal is used for bottom-up improvement. You take the first step towards addressing the problem or the waste. It often starts small, on a Post-it or beer mat, and might grow into a sound improvement proposal, with matching analysis.
The basis of an improvement proposal
An improvement proposal starts with a description of the problem. Work from the root causes. A good and comprehensive method to express your proposals is the 5W1H-method, which is based on the following questions:
- What happened?
- Who was involved?
- Where did the problem occur?
- When did it happen?
- Why did the problem occur?
- How did it happen?
These questions lead to a clear view of the problem. Only then it’s possible to think about a probable solution.
Writing a strong improvement proposal
Many companies have a suggestion box. It’s located in the canteen or somewhere down the hall, and every once in a while someone puts in a complaint on a piece of paper. Usually, nothing happens because there’s a lack of information. And so the decision-makers don’t see the use or necessity of the proposal.
If you want your improvement proposal to be seriously considered, you need to take the following steps:
- Only write improvement proposals for concrete waste. That enhances the chances of it being picked up because the waste is measurable.
- Describe the problem. Use all aspects of the 5W1H-method.
- Determine which solutions are available for the problem.
- Discuss the impact/effort with your team to find out how complicated it is to make a change and what the results could be.
- Relay all the information to the manager, give him all the information to make the right decision.
From improvement proposal to improvement activity
During a (paper-based or digital) whiteboard meeting, improvement proposals are discussed, assessed, and prioritized using an effort/impact matrix. Then the improvement proposal is ready to be carried out!
Cierpa Kaizen and improvement proposals
Cierpa Kaizen’s software not only deals with the improvement proposal but also with the entire improvement process. First, all improvement proposals are recorded, big and small. The goal, the execution, and the people involved are visible, as is the value of the improvement points. This way, it’s easy to determine which improvement proposal will bring the most significant rewards and should be handled first.
Then, the improvement proposal is transformed into an improvement activity. The action point will be assigned to an owner, while the PDCA method is used for process monitoring, from idea to realization. This makes Cierpa Kaizen the fundamental improvement method that simplifies and speeds up the improvement process!
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