Sustaining Improvements

Most processes, especially those that involve people, will tend to slowly deteriorate over time. Perhaps after organizing a workspace to perfection, one might find that ten weeks after the reorder the whole workspace is back to where it started. A more solid example of this was seen in one of the improvement events done in conjunction with our office. The improvement event was a digital reorder of a Google Drive. Several years ago the drive started out as a relatively small drive, but over time expanded into over 9000 files, with most of these files being either unnecessary or duplicates. After combing through and removing these unnecessary files, the drive ended with approximately 2500 files that were decently well-ordered.

While the above drive is well organized now, without supervision it will likely slowly return to an unorganized state in the future. However, this slow degradation, as with other processes, can be stopped with periodic audits. The audits for the drive include general standards for organization along with more specific guidelines for naming conventions and handling images. The below standards are scheduled to be reviewed once every 6 months.

The Standards for the Drive

Most improvements, not just those focused on organization, can benefit from the use of audits over regular intervals. Altogether the inevitable decrease in the quality of a process can be slowed or stopped entirely by creating standards and enforcing those standards through periodic audits.

3 Comments on "Sustaining Improvements"

  • ali
    January 19, 2020 at 8:13 AM

    thanks good post

  • Theresa A Coleman-Kaiser
    January 21, 2020 at 12:33 PM

    Very useful set of standard that almost any department could replicate, adjust to their own needs, and run with. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sensei Domi
    February 15, 2020 at 1:19 PM

    I see that you made improvements that had to be made or the process would’ve gotten out of control. My question? Were standardized work initiated or introduced to provide guidelines to the users?

    How are new standards communicated to the staff? Are you using memos? Standard Operating Procedures? Work Instructions? Job Aids?

    Obviously, sign offs would be nice so user understands new standards.


    Sensei Domi