Escape the Improvement Trap: Five Ingredients Missing in Most Improvement Recipes

Front Cover
CRC Press, Sep 24, 2010 - Business & Economics - 319 pages

Written by two experts who have dedicated their careers to quality improvement, Escape the Improvement Trap: Five Ingredients Missing in Most Improvement Recipes separates itself from other improvement books by looking at why most companies rarely achieve anything more than an average level of improvement maturity. They identify five critical ingredients required for successful improvement:

1. A meaningful business value proposition and strategy that drives key improvement actions
2. An engaging environment where people can do their best work
3. A focus on meaningful metrics while avoiding irrelevant details
4. Process improvement efforts that maximize cross-functional process performance and foster deeper process understanding, innovation, and execution of best work practices
5. An executive mindset that focuses on customer value, people development, process performance, and business improvement outcomes, not solely on savings

The authors consider a variety of situations at Independence Enterprise, a fictional company, based on their own very real experiences. They elaborate on the principles that should come into play, look at what Independence Enterprise is doing right and wrong, and suggest deployment actions to help you apply the principles to your own organization.


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List of Exhibits
Key People at Independence Enterprise
Just Because Your
The Pathway to Becoming a Level 4
A Top 20 Company Has a Very Good
Independence Enterprise Decides to Analyze
Customer Value Develop
Cascading the Metrics from One Level to
Visual Methods
Metric Development Tools
Independence Enterprise Develops New Insights
Deployment Actions
Process Thinking Maximize
Stretch Your Thinking beyond Your Direct Roles
Clarify Customer Requirements

Principles to Consider Regarding How Your
Customer Value Should Be Built into
Make Sure You Have a Deep Understanding
An 8020 Case Study
Understanding Customer Requirements
Engage People Leaders Create
Making the Case for Improving Employee
Establish Credibility
Whats Needed to Increase Employee
Key Metrics Focus on the Vital
True North Performance Metrics
How Do Goals Fit into Performance Metrics?
The MonthEnd Panic
Customer Value and the Net Promoter Score
Engage People Metrics
Streamline Value Creation Processes
Align Support Systems
Managing Support Systems for Overall Business
Support Systems Conclusions
The Executive Mindset Focus
Using Strategy Deployment to Find True North
Case Example of Strategy Deployment
Governance Should Focus on the Big Picture
How Independence Enterprise Has Changed
Deployment Actions to Apply
Assessing Your Organizations Improvement

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About the author (2010)

Michael Bremer has worked in the world of business process improvement since 1980. He led the creation of a company-wide improvement initiative for Beatrice Companies, a Fortune 30 Company at the time, where he had the opportunity to study under the tutelage of Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Dr. Joseph Juran. The Beatrice Improvement initiative was one of the models studied in creating the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award. Michael is currently the president of the Cumberland Group. In recent years he has served as a Senior Engagement Manager for Motorola University, is a past Chief Financial Officer for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence and has held a variety of other positions in industrial and service businesses.

Michael currently teaches a class on innovation and process improvement for the University of Chicago's Graham School. He co-authored Six Sigma Black Belt Handbook (McGraw-Hill, 2004) and Six Sigma Financial Tracking and Reporting (McGraw-Hill, 2005), aka: I had a million dollars in savings, but my P&L did not change. Michael earned a BS in accounting, from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. He is a CPA, certified MBB, certified Lean Bronze expert and a CMC. He has worked with organizations in many countries to improve the way they go about the business of improvement.

Brian McKibben is a founding partner of The Cumberland Group-Chicago. He has thirty years' experience in operations planning and management, helping business teams reduce waste, improve quality, smooth production flows, shorten order cycle times, and reduce inventories. His approach to business performance improvement includes four elements:

  • Clear definition of customer requirements, especially their loyalty factors
  • Lean business processes; add only value to products and services; no waste
  • Team-based methods for broad workforce involvement in improvement efforts
  • Measurement = the springboard to Continuous Improvement

Before joining Cumberland in 1991, Brian held management roles in several manufacturing companies. That experience and the insights he gained from them contribute to his effectiveness in a consulting role. Managing the manufacturing planning functions for 140 Beatrice U.S. Food plants and warehouses provided perspective on optimization of a large-scale enterprise while providing for autonomy and job satisfaction of local operating teams. Directing product design, manufacturing engineering, industrial engineering and manufacturing services for The HON Company, Wesco Manufacturing, and All-Steel proved that even complex processes like product and manufacturing process development can be streamlined (made Lean) to achieve results in a fraction of "expected" times. His experience in a turnaround situation confirmed the saying that "the impossible is often the untried," and that the technical issues in business are less important than the people issues. Business successes are the result of carefully nurtured teamwork; not the rah-rah fluff type, but rather the practical nuts-and-bolts approach that is focused on the team's common goals and the mechanics of how they work together effectively to achieve those goals quickly.

Brian holds a BS in business and economics/industrial management from the Stuart School of Management and Finance at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. He is past president of the Chicago chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, a speaker on operations planning and performance improvement to other professional organizations, and co-author of Six Sigma Financial Tracking and Reporting (McGraw-Hill, 2005).

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