Continuous improvement knowledge transfer includes training, coaching and progress reviews.
Once the company has decided that Continuous Improvement will bring benefits, improvement project leaders have been identified and projects have been selected and scoped, the transfer of knowledge commences.
Typically the Continuous Improvement Expert (CIE) program is more intense and focuses more on the analysis tools than the Continuous Improvement Practitioner (CIP) program.
The Continuous Improvement Master (CIP) program typically consists of the CIE program with an additional week top-up centred around advanced tools and leadership. The type of methodology that is being introduced will determine the length of the training program. For instance, the Lean program maybe a week while the Continuous Improvement program can last up to five weeks presented in blocks of a week per month.
Continuous Improvement Knowledge Transfer: Training
Training is where the continuous improvement knowledge transfer begins. Having had experience with different training methods ranging from online to a classroom setting, it is my opinion that each has its advantages, as with most education programs, when possible, learning Continuous Improvement with classroom interaction is favoured. Having stated that, online learning methods and methods continue to evolve and is coming pretty close to classroom interaction.
Training sessions should be facilitated by experienced CIP who have earned their Improvement Project Leaders in hard combat in the “field”. As discussed in an early secret, Continuous Improvement is as much about using the appropriate tools correctly as it is about working with people and bringing about change. These are difficult concepts to teach without the facilitator having had practical experience.
Training sessions should be structured in such a manner that an appropriate amount of theory is presented followed by experiential work. It is in the doing of the practical exercise and witnessing the concepts just taught come to life that the pieces of the puzzle start coming together. In the exercises, it is interesting to note the diverse understanding that sometimes emerges from candidates around the same theory. It is equally fascinating to witness these same candidates guide each other and eventually arrive at the correct conclusion. What more powerful learning technique is available.
Candidates should undergo training with selected improvement projects which they refer to as they progress through the training modules. The reason for the break between training sessions is to allow candidates to go back and implement the new tools and techniques on their own projects. It is equally important to allow them to offer feedback through presentations and discussions of their learning and difficulties.
Continuous Improvement Knowledge Transfer: Coaching & Mentoring
A vital component of ensuring that improvement project leader’s steadily progressing with their projects is the level of coaching and mentoring they receive. The champion and the CIM take responsibility for this role. Through coaching and mentoring of all the roles discussed in the previous post, continuous improvement knowledge transfer is cemented.
Often, and particularly with the initial implementation, no CIM may exist. This is when a reputable consultant or consulting firm fills the gap until such time that the company can provide the support independently.
Whilst the champion provides leadership coaching and mentoring, the CIM focuses more on providing technical support. Naturally, the support is project-specific and aims to ensure the improvement project leaders use the appropriate tools and techniques and use them correctly.
It is advised that champions sit in on project team sessions from time to time to provide support and provide an alternate view on the project. From participating they can better guide the Improvement Project Leaders to improve their facilitation and leadership skills.
The CIM may be requested to co-facilitate sessions should the improvement project leaders not feel equipped, however, the CIM really provides the best support by reviewing projects with the improvement project leaders.
Candidate improvement project leaders should be assigned senior CIM or CIE as mentors they can call on at any time to assist with day to day issues.
Continuous Improvement Knowledge Transfer: Progress Review
The final key ingredient to ensure continuous improvement knowledge transfer is to conduct regular progress reviews. As a minimum project reviews should take place between training sessions and once a month thereafter until the project is closed. Ideally, a project plan should dictate the review sessions which should take place as stage-gate reviews at the end of each stage of the Continuous Improvement process.
Reviews should be presented by the improvement project leaders in a structured format, typically a PowerPoint presentation. The improvement project leaders need to be aware of the criteria that are being evaluated as well as the tools and techniques for the particular stage the project is at.
A fair scoring mechanism should be used linked to a traffic light indicator. If the light is green the tool, technique or stage has been correctly employed and the candidate may move onto the next stage. A yellow light means caution and typically indicates that whilst a particulate tool, technique or stage needs to be revisited, the candidate can continue into the next stage. And finally, a red light indicates that the tool, technique or stage has to be redone.
Ideally, review sessions should be attended by the improvement project leaders, CIM, Champion and Process Owner. The champion gains an understanding of the status and challenges of the project while the Process Owner is reminded of the importance of the project.
The CIM should compile a feedback report that is sent to the four stakeholders above and any other department or function that may require it. The report will contain specifics on the tools and also a summary of the status, project challenges experienced and actions to be taken.
In the next secret to winning with Continuous Improvement, we will explore implementation and project tracking.
Back to the introductory Article of this series Implementing A Winning Continuous Improvement Program
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Back to the previous article Project Selection and Project Chartering