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There has been an ongoing dialogue regarding the contemporary approaches to process improvement and the time it takes for that activity (improvement teams) to show results and impact. We at Juran have developed some solutions to mitigate those concerns in the form of Rapid Improvement Teams.
What are they?
Rapid Improvement Teams (RITs) are an outgrowth of Kaizen Events and BLITZ Teams. Each of these were accelerated approaches to improvement; the former (Kaizen Events) are the result of LEAN improvement analysis and activities, and the latter (Blitz Teams) were related to traditional performance improvement. RITs were established when clients felts that Lean Six Sigma project teams took too long to get results, and were too cumbersome in their structure. RITs are tightly focused around a specific area or process to improve, and are executed by a team of individuals that work within the process construct and boundaries. They begin with a project charter and a defined set of data related to the process to be improved. They have a project Champion and Leader with a charge to complete activities within a two to four week period with a core set of team members working full-time on the RIT. They have the authority to collect data and make improvements within the boundaries set within the charter.
Check out one of our blog posts on Five Key Points for Effective Teams.
Why are they good for you?
They are Rapid! Projects are completed in two to four weeks with a defined scope and target of improvement. Resources are dedicated to the RIT “full-time,” that is, people are removed from their job responsibilities (after all, people go on vacation for a period of time and you survive) and focus directly on the process to be improved. It is amazing what people can do when all other distractions have been removed and they have a singular focus.
There is a genuine Improvement! The expectation for full-time participation is an improvement. When things are conducted in a focused singular manner, identifying roadblocks, obstacles and constraints come easier. A target is set and the team has the data and expertise to support their decisions. A condensed and well tested tool set is utilized and a structured approach is followed.
A Team of individuals are deployed! The improvements are not developed by a single individual. The process changes are agreed upon in collaboration, by individuals that have a stake in the process and work within the process on a day to day basis. They are not selected from outside the process but can be suppliers, processors, or customers of the process. Gaining consensus and agreement on what to do differently is necessary for improvements to take hold, blossom and be sustained.
Considering RITs as a tactical approach to improvement is something to experiment with at your organization. There are an unlimited amount of opportunities where RITs can be tested and the results can be very surprising. They are a refreshing way to approach improvement and are extremely motivating for those who participate. Give them a try!
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Author: Peter Robustelli
Peter J. Robustelli is Executive Vice President, Client Experience of Juran. Mr. Robustelli possesses over 25 years of diverse experience as a Key Executive in Process and Business Improvement, Consulting, Project Management, Client Management and Business Development. He is an effective, seasoned, hands-on executive who solves business problems and improves operating performance and profitability by integrating organizations, driving process improvement through statistical variation control, and restructuring organizations.
Mr. Robustelli’s primary areas of experience are Executive Leadership, Engagement Management, Change Management, Six Sigma, Lean, Business Process Management, Business Development, Evaluation and Assessment and Service Operations Management. His expertise crosses various industries, including, manufacturing, utilities, government services and transactional settings.