The importance of improvement teams

One of the activities that the Aquila consultants assist our clients with is the implementation of Improvement Teams. These are multidisciplinary groups of people that work together focused on improving a specific result.

Improvement Teams are a great tool to solve problems (treat anomalies or improve current results) by working to identify the root causes impacting a certain result and defining countermeasure actions to block these causes. The key for success and achievement of good results are the technical knowledge of the team, the application of a structured management methodology and a strong leadership..

What are the main aspects to be considered when creating an Improvement Team?

1. Set a target to be achieved
Having a clear target is requirement for the resolution of problems. A target is normally established from historical analysis or external benchmarks. Defining the objective that the team aims to achieve serves to direct efforts and guide all the members’ contributions to the team.

2. Multidisciplinary team
It is important that the team is composed of members from different functional areas. This enables a wider view of the problem and makes it easier to map the impacts on the other processes of the company.

3. Roles and Responsibilities
On top of members with good technical and practical knowledge on the execution of the tasks related to the problem it is essential to have a good leader with a holistic knowledge of the company’s processes. The involvement of members of a business improvement (continuous improvement) team is recommended to guarantee a consist approach and method to focus on the achievement of the targets.

4. Follow up governance
Set a periodical meetings schedule for the team’s follow up of results. A good practice is to schedule weekly meetings so that the impact of previously  executed actions can be observed in partial results and new measure can be put in place to correct or boost the month’s performance.

5. Follow a method
Establishing steps for the identification, analysis and resolution of a problem is crucial for driving the focus of the team. There are many different methods created by companies and consulting groups over the last decades. A simple but powerful problem-solving method suggested by the Aquila Group is the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act).

6. Standardisation of results (routine implementation)
Once the actions are implemented and the desired results are achieved, a work routine containing the improvements should be implemented to ensure the continuous achievement of targets. A good instrument for so is the review or elaboration and follow up of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The shopfloor employees must be incentivised to report anomalies and treat the causes of the problems.


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