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Plan for Sustainability, Don't Just Hope For It

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 05-06-10

Kaizen event, A3 projects, DMAIC projects – you name it, projects get done and results are generated. But…

Are the results sustained?

Too often the gains deteriorate over time. There are many reasons from the culture to changing priorities. But at the very least, we should be doing what we can within the project to ensure we are designing and planning for sustainability of results. Here are 5 questions you should be asking before you wrap up a project.

  1. How will breakdowns or deteriorations in the new process be surfaced and corrected?
  2. Is there process governance in place with clear roles and responsibilities?
  3. Is there a common vision of what perfection looks like within those using the improvement process?
  4. Are there mechanisms in place to surface and manage improvements?
  5. Is there reflection process in place to help individuals carry lessons from projects into daily improvements?

They aren’t trivial questions. Don’t ask them as you’re sending the team away. Make them part of your project. Plan for sustainability, don’t just hope for it.

Comments

  • Jamie,

    Absolutely correct! We all too often wrap up a project and hope the results are sustained, although this is tough to do if you are a consultant and the client did not want to continue to pay you for follow-up work (they figure they can do that themselves). Even still, we should always remember – HOPE is not a strategy!

    Glenn

    Glenn Whitfield May 6, 2010 at 8:07 am
  • Jamie,

    Absolutely correct! We all too often wrap up a project and hope the results are sustained, although this is tough to do if you are a consultant and the client did not want to continue to pay you for follow-up work (they figure they can do that themselves). Even still, we should always remember – HOPE is not a strategy!

    Glenn

    Glenn Whitfield May 6, 2010 at 8:07 am
  • Jamie,

    Absolutely correct! We all too often wrap up a project and hope the results are sustained, although this is tough to do if you are a consultant and the client did not want to continue to pay you for follow-up work (they figure they can do that themselves). Even still, we should always remember – HOPE is not a strategy!

    Glenn

    Glenn Whitfield May 6, 2010 at 8:07 am
  • I’m of the opinion that it’s next to impossible to “sustain” or “control” any process mainly because of that pesky thing called entropy.

    As such, it’s my opinion that if we focus on making minor improvements each and every day we’ll have a much better chance at long term success.

    As those that watch the stock market know… things rarely, if ever, go completely sideways (sustain). Instead, things either go up or down. Our processes are no different. You’re either getting better or worse.

    Ron Pereira May 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm
  • I’m of the opinion that it’s next to impossible to “sustain” or “control” any process mainly because of that pesky thing called entropy.

    As such, it’s my opinion that if we focus on making minor improvements each and every day we’ll have a much better chance at long term success.

    As those that watch the stock market know… things rarely, if ever, go completely sideways (sustain). Instead, things either go up or down. Our processes are no different. You’re either getting better or worse.

    Ron Pereira May 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm
  • I’m of the opinion that it’s next to impossible to “sustain” or “control” any process mainly because of that pesky thing called entropy.

    As such, it’s my opinion that if we focus on making minor improvements each and every day we’ll have a much better chance at long term success.

    As those that watch the stock market know… things rarely, if ever, go completely sideways (sustain). Instead, things either go up or down. Our processes are no different. You’re either getting better or worse.

    Ron Pereira May 6, 2010 at 4:27 pm
  • Glenn, It may be tough but it is the responsibility of a consultant to ensure the work is done in a way that at least engages these questions, even if they can’t be solved.

    Ron, I agree with entropy. The best you can do is (a) find sources of problems and eliminate them quickly (hence my question #1) and (b) improve at a rate that outpaces new waste coming into the process. This is why we can never stop, and there is no such thing as a lean organization.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh May 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm
  • Glenn, It may be tough but it is the responsibility of a consultant to ensure the work is done in a way that at least engages these questions, even if they can’t be solved.

    Ron, I agree with entropy. The best you can do is (a) find sources of problems and eliminate them quickly (hence my question #1) and (b) improve at a rate that outpaces new waste coming into the process. This is why we can never stop, and there is no such thing as a lean organization.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh May 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm
  • Glenn, It may be tough but it is the responsibility of a consultant to ensure the work is done in a way that at least engages these questions, even if they can’t be solved.

    Ron, I agree with entropy. The best you can do is (a) find sources of problems and eliminate them quickly (hence my question #1) and (b) improve at a rate that outpaces new waste coming into the process. This is why we can never stop, and there is no such thing as a lean organization.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh May 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm
  • I agree with all the points made above. The summation of the points contributes to whatI think it all comes down to (or the 5th why…) CULTURE.

    Mark Welch May 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm
  • I agree with all the points made above. The summation of the points contributes to whatI think it all comes down to (or the 5th why…) CULTURE.

    Mark Welch May 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm
  • I agree with all the points made above. The summation of the points contributes to whatI think it all comes down to (or the 5th why…) CULTURE.

    Mark Welch May 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm
  • I just wanted to thank you, Jamie, for the excellent presentation you made on behalf of the Michigan Lean Consortium. You made some excellent points on how to effective “coach” by using standardized work, GROW, and PDCA. I applaud your webinar.

    Vickie Dolis May 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm
  • I just wanted to thank you, Jamie, for the excellent presentation you made on behalf of the Michigan Lean Consortium. You made some excellent points on how to effective “coach” by using standardized work, GROW, and PDCA. I applaud your webinar.

    Vickie Dolis May 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm
  • I just wanted to thank you, Jamie, for the excellent presentation you made on behalf of the Michigan Lean Consortium. You made some excellent points on how to effective “coach” by using standardized work, GROW, and PDCA. I applaud your webinar.

    Vickie Dolis May 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm
  • i totally agree with the above mention points. sustainability is one of the most precious qualities we should persist and it is the guarantee for success.

    Natalie Wang August 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm
  • i totally agree with the above mention points. sustainability is one of the most precious qualities we should persist and it is the guarantee for success.

    Natalie Wang August 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm
  • i totally agree with the above mention points. sustainability is one of the most precious qualities we should persist and it is the guarantee for success.

    Natalie Wang August 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm