The Journey to Operational Excellence | Improvement Plan

Improvement Plan | Part 2

Dr Anthony Kenneson-Adams.  MA. Bsc(Hons). FInstLM. Royal Air Force (Ret’d)
Posted 06/29/2023

This is a 4-part series: Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4

This is the 2nd installment of an 8-step process to enable you on your journey to Operational Excellence. Once you have identified areas for improvement you must develop and implement your improvement plan. I trust you will put these steps into action and power-up your journey to Operational Excellence.

3. Develop a plan: Once you have identified areas for improvement in a manufacturing process, you can develop a plan for improvement by following these steps:

  1. Clearly Define the Objectives: Clearly articulate the goals and objectives of the improvement plan. What specific outcomes do you want to achieve? Make sure the objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART goals).
  2. Prioritize Improvement Opportunities: Assess the identified areas for improvement and prioritize them based on their potential impact, feasibility, and alignment with the overall organizational strategy. Consider the resources, time, and effort required for each improvement opportunity.
  3. Break Down the Improvement Plan: Break down the improvement plan into actionable steps or initiatives. Each initiative should have a clear scope, defined activities, and expected outcomes. Assign responsibilities to individuals or teams who will be accountable for executing each initiative.
  4. Set Timelines and Milestones: Establish realistic timelines for each initiative and define key milestones to track progress. Make sure the timelines are achievable and consider any dependencies or interdependencies among the initiatives.
  5. Allocate Resources: Determine the resources required to execute the improvement plan successfully. This includes human resources, financial resources, technology, equipment, and any external support or expertise needed. Ensure that the necessary resources are allocated appropriately to support the improvement initiatives.
  6. Develop Action Plans: For each improvement initiative, develop detailed action plans that outline the specific tasks, activities, and deliverables. Clearly define the steps required to implement the improvement and identify any potential risks or challenges. Assign responsibilities for each task or activity to individuals or teams.
  7. Implement Continuous Monitoring and Feedback Mechanisms: Establish mechanisms to monitor the progress of the improvement plan and gather feedback. Regularly review the status of each initiative, track key performance indicators (KPIs), and compare the actual results against the desired outcomes. Collect feedback from stakeholders and engage with the teams involved in the improvement initiatives to ensure continuous improvement and timely course correction.
  8. Communication and Engagement: Develop a communication plan to keep stakeholders informed about the improvement plan and its progress. Engage and involve employees at all levels to ensure their understanding, commitment, and support. Encourage open communication channels to gather insights, suggestions, and feedback from the teams involved.
  9. Training and Skill Development: Identify any training or skill development needs that may be required for employees involved in executing the improvement initiatives. Provide necessary training or resources to enhance their capabilities and ensure they have the skills and knowledge required to contribute effectively.
  10. Evaluate and Celebrate Success: Regularly evaluate the impact of the improvement initiatives and celebrate the achieved successes. Recognize and appreciate the efforts of individuals and teams involved. Identify any lessons learned during the improvement process and incorporate them into future improvement initiatives.

Remember that developing an improvement plan is an iterative process. Regularly review and refine the plan based on feedback, results, and changing circumstances. Stay adaptable and flexible in your approach to maximize the effectiveness of your improvement efforts.

4. Implement the plan: Implementing a plan for improvement in continuous process manufacturing and construction involves executing the identified initiatives and actions. Here are steps to help you effectively implement the plan:

  1. Communicate the Plan: I have seen the power in clearly communicating the improvement plan to all relevant stakeholders, including employees, managers, and other departments or teams involved. When you ensure everyone understands the goals, objectives, and specific actions required for improvement you have a force multiplier for success.
  2. Assign Responsibilities: Assign clear responsibilities and roles to individuals or teams for executing different initiatives within the plan. Define their authority, accountability, and reporting structure. Ensure that everyone is aware of their roles and the expectations set for them. Never assume actions will just be carried out, assign responsibilities and check for completion.
  3. Provide Resources: Your people can’t work miracles.  Ensure that the necessary resources are available to support the implementation of the improvement plan. This includes providing adequate funding, equipment, materials, technology, and any other resources required to carry out the planned initiatives effectively.
  4. Develop Detailed Action Plans: Work with the responsible individuals or teams to develop detailed action plans for each initiative. Clearly define the tasks, activities, timelines, milestones, and deliverables. Apply short interval control or Agile methodology to break large tasks into smaller manageable work packets.  Ensure that the action plans are realistic and align with the overall improvement objectives.
  5. Implement Action Plans: Begin executing the action plans according to the defined timelines and milestones. Monitor the progress closely, track the completion of tasks, and ensure that everyone is adhering to the planned activities.
  6. Monitor and Measure Progress: Implement mechanisms to monitor and measure the progress of each initiative. Regularly track key performance indicators (KPIs) and compare the actual results with the desired outcomes. Use data collection and analysis tools to gather relevant data and insights.
  7. Address Challenges and Obstacles: Be prepared to address any challenges, obstacles, or roadblocks that arise during the implementation process. Regularly review the progress and identify any issues or barriers that may hinder the successful execution of the plan. Take proactive measures to resolve these challenges and keep the initiatives on track.
  8. Foster Collaboration and Engagement: Encourage collaboration and engagement among the teams and individuals involved in the implementation. Foster a culture of open communication, encourage sharing of ideas and feedback, and provide a platform for discussions and problem-solving. Regularly update stakeholders on the progress and seek their input.
  9. Adjust and Adapt: Stay flexible and be willing to adjust the plan as needed based on feedback, insights, and changing circumstances. Continuously assess the effectiveness of the implemented initiatives and make necessary adjustments or refinements to ensure better outcomes.
  10. Celebrate Achievements and Learn from Failures: Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and successes resulting from the implementation of the improvement plan. Always recognize the efforts and contributions of individuals and teams. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way.  Additionally, learn from any failures or setbacks encountered along the way. Analyze the reasons behind the failures, identify lessons learned, and use those insights to improve future implementation efforts.

Remember that implementation is an ongoing process, and continuous monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment are essential for long-term success. Regularly review the progress, evaluate the outcomes, and iterate the plan as needed to drive continuous improvement in the manufacturing process.

This is a 4-part series: Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4


Dr Anthony Kenneson-Adams

Dr. Anthony Kenneson-Adams had a 30-year career in the Royal Air Force, becoming a Senior Engineering Officer, Project Manager and Engineering Authority responsible for multiple fast jets and large-body aircraft in peace and war operations. On retiring from the Royal Air Force, he became a Corporate Operational Excellence Consultant in the Paper Manufacturing and Packaging Industries and is now the Head of Learning and Knowledge Transfer for the international Project 7 Consultancy.  You can contact Anthony at or [email protected]

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Natalie Johnson

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