Switching From Improvement to Innovation on the Fly

Abstract:Proceeding with an improvement methodology when it becomes obvious the process lacks the potential to achieve the desired capability can be damaging to an organization's continuous improvement initiatives. Goals will not be reached, and the resulting feeling of failure will handicap further improvement projects. A methodology is proposed that switches process improvement efforts from an improvement mode to an innovation mode that asks, "Are we doing the right thing?" The proposed method is illustrated by an account of a fictional company, Financial Planning Associates (FPA), which takes a six-step approach to innovation using various quality tools. A Pugh design matrix was used to guide the improvement team through a converging sequence of concept selection and concept improvements. The methodology described can be used to salvage a process improvement project that is in jeopardy and transform a potential failure into a breakthrough for the organization. A sidebar article provides background …

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