A few years ago, a tennis coach suggested I change my grip to a more modern and versatile hold that would make changing from forehand to backhand quicker. I didn’t think I had much of a problem with that area of my game, but I gave it a go. It seemed to work, but I have no idea how much it improved my playing. Instead, I required countless medical appointments as it caused my wrist great distress after so many years playing with the old hold. Eventually I went back to my old grip, deciding it wasn’t worth the effort to change.

Structured approach best for improvement

Continual Improvement is not just about ticking things off your Wish list or improving something because you think it might be better. Proactive continual improvement is most effective when a structured approach is used.

Do you know the cost of each problem on your improvement list? It’s hard to measure if you have made an improvement unless you understand where you are starting from and determine if the cost is worth the effort that change requires.

Measure the cost of the problem

We often think of measuring improvements in terms of productivity, but you might also consider measuring internal frustration levels, customer complaints, waste, injuries, or other incidents. Ultimately all of these can impact profitability.

Once you understand the cost of the problem, conduct a first pass prioritization of your improvement projects.

The next step is then to use structured problem-solving techniques to define the problem and identify relevant solutions, which are then passed through a second prioritization based on the cost and benefit of the change.

There are a number of structured problem-solving techniques. A good one is the S.O.L.V.E framework as describe in Ishan Galapathy’s book Advance, where V stands for Validate. This is done through monitoring and data collection and by quantifying the savings or improvements made.

An Improvement Wishlist is not a bad thing. It’s a great starting point, and with a bit of data to back it up can help you make a difference to the bottom line.