What to expect from an improvement coach

What can, and should you expect from an improvement coach? These are our five steps to get your improvement project off to a great start.

The role of the improvement coach

An improvement coach guides the improvement team and manages improvement projects. The improvement coach can be an internal or external employee, temporarily or permanently attached to your organization. Once the coach is assigned, the inventory starts: how well does the process run, and where are bottlenecks located? After the possible improvements have been identified, the first one can be addressed.

The improvement coach raises awareness among employees about improving, teaches them to make the improvements last and to keep you improving.

How does an improvement coach reach his or her goal?

After the improvement coach has been installed he or she can start contributing to your success. A couple of conditions have to be met.

An improvement coach has to...

1. Create support

The improvement coach needs to make people want to improve. The best way to do this depends on the situation. A company that is going through hard times needs a different approach to a company that is growing too quickly. In dire situations people are inclined to go along. However, when the workload is already too high, it isn’t always easy to explain why and how more improvement is necessary. The improvement coach must be able to create support among employees in any situation.

2. Take away the fear of change

People often find change difficult. Process improvement can also be confronting: it shows all waste within processes and could quickly lead to the question: Aren’t we doing well?”

Also, differences between shifts become apparent, which can make people uncomfortable.

It’s essential for the improvement coach to convey what process improvement brings to each employee: what’s in it for me? Process improvement is about organizational growth and about making everybody’s work more enjoyable, better and more comfortable. It’s not about differences and pointing fingers.

3. Offer help

An improvement coach needs to get the ball rolling. There’s never a right moment to start change; an argument often heard. The improvement coach needs to facilitate the start of the improvement process. 

4. Ensure the first improvement process is a success

Success sells, also within a company! Make sure the first improvement process is successful, however big or small it may be. Therefore, the improvement coach needs to select that first project carefully! 

5. Build up, one step at a time

Customers tend to make large-scale plans; improvement processes have an ambitious scope and the start requires multiple teams. However, it’s much better to improve one step at a time. Start with a single team, turn the improvement project into a success, and let people from the initial team help other teams. Smart planning, guiding, facilitating and managing the kick-off are essential tasks for the improvement coach. Keep it manageable for all disciplines and then expand.

Cierpa has vast experience with great improvement coaches. These consultants use Cierpa Software to address both significant and small instances of waste. Cierpa loves to bring you in contact with an excellent improvement coach to help guide your improvement process. Contact us for advice or an online demo of our software.

Also, read our blog on “13 steps for the OEE improvement coach.” 


Cierpa Software enables you to improve your organization continuously. LEAN manufacturing changes your work floor processes towards better and faster results and ultimately reduces any waste. With our LEAN software for companies, it’s possible to manage this ongoing process quickly and easily. Our Cierpa improvement consultants can also offer help.

Techniques and methods like 5S audit, Kaizen, OEE and the underlying LEAN thought principles are at the very core of our software suite. With Cierpa OEE, Cierpa Kaizen, Cierpa Quality, Cierpa Competence and Cierpa Assessment, Cierpa Software really speeds up all your improvement processes!

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What to expect from an improvement coach