April 11, 2011

While running a Kaizen Blitz (a short term improvement effort focused on a specific issue) or having a systematic Six Sigma project can have dramatic impacts on improving performance, don’t forget about getting small ideas everyday. For example in 2008 Coca-Cola Stockholm saved 1.5 million Kronor by using Six Sigma but at the same time saved 9 million Kronor from using simple front line improvement ideas!

Research shows that successful lean programs have improvement that is front line driven, they have small improvements made on a daily basis and that improvement activities are process focused. 

Changing an organizational culture to encourage employees to provide improvement ideas that become a routine part of daily work can create an invigorating atmosphere of rapid ongoing improvement. But for this to happen management must be open to allowing the ideas not only to be suggested but to ensure their implementation so they can see that they are making a difference. The ideas must of course be focused around a key strategic goal so that they are coordinated and ensured appropriate.

Are you getting ideas from your employees and are you USING them!?

NEXT TIME Don’t Just Say NO! Killing Motivation and Innovation


  1. Meetings: Critical methods of communication
  2. The influence of the simple blower door test
  3. Evenflow for performance
  4. Theory of Constraints
  5. 360s and Employee Reviews

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.