Improvements Take Too Long!

Dr. Joseph A DeFeo Blog

“Our improvements take too long!” This is the mantra of many executives I have met, of every employee I have met. Let’s face it everything takes too long. Everything except vacations, holidays and entertainment events that is.

So why does ‘it’ take so long? There are a variety of reasons most of which we continue to research at Juran. Year after year, the song remains the same. All improvement takes too long!

The complaints range from ‘projects are too big’, ‘management is not supportive’, ‘data is hard to find’, ‘subject matter experts do not participate’, ‘the problem solving method is too cumbersome’, ‘the changes are too hard to gain approval to implement’, and the list goes on and on.

If the mantra ‘it takes too long’ exists in so many organizations then how is it that so many others make improvements year after year — and fast? They do it by dealing collaboratively to remove each obstacle in the improvement journey as well as using the right method at the right time.

Many organizations believe if they have a problem solving method like Lean, Six Sigma or Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) that is all that is needed. Others have great teams but no methods and so on. The answer lies in the organization’s understanding of what really drives the speed of a project and change in general.

Let me start with the typical DMAIC method. This method is not new, it has evolved from many decades of problem solving. The steps of Define — Measure — Analyze — Improve — Control really do work. The problem is that you want them to work faster. You need to break through the slowness and literally jump from the identification of a problem to a solution faster.

I was wondering, can a team jump from defining a problem to solutions and have little risk of failure while creating breakthroughs faster? I stumbled on a term, for the most part a negative term, called “solutioneering”. This means brainstorming solutions to a problem without knowing the root causes in hopes that the solutions will work. This method is referred to as ready-fire-aim and is often used. My experience is that sometimes it works, but many times it does not. However, we have found that if we can jump over the obstacles that prevent a faster time to a solution, it can be done right, and it does work fast and with less risk of failure.

We have been reviewing hundreds of projects, interviewing clients, other experts like us, collecting research and we believe there is a way to do it. It is so innovative we call it JUMP© which stands for the Juran Management Practice. JUMP takes some of the slowness out of the overwhelming DMAIC problem solving or business process optimization methods.

How does it work? We identified the complexities teams encounter that result in them spending too much of their time waiting while getting the least amount of information to move the project forward. Once tackling these slow points and creating a simple structure to deal with them, projects instead of hopping, or skipping, can be jumping to results faster.



Do your improvement projects take too long? Do you want to improve but don’t know where to start? If you want to find out exactly how JUMP© works, contact us or tune into my next blog post, or both.



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Author: Dr. Joseph A DeFeo

Dr. Joseph A. DeFeo, Chairman and CEO of Juran, is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on transformational change and breakthrough quality management.

For 28 years, Dr. DeFeo has worked as a trusted adviser helping business leaders increase sales, reduce costs and improve its customer experience through the deployment of performance excellence programs. These include Business Process Quality Management, Lean, Six Sigma, Strategy Deployment and Change Management. His recent publication, Juran’s Quality Essentials for Leaders, provides a concise message delivered for leaders to teach them how to embrace quality, not fight it, to be a globally competitive enterprise. Dr. DeFeo has co-authored three other popular texts.

DeFeo’s belief that a relentless customer focus and integrity drives business results was recently noted by Steve Denning of A frequent motivational guest speaker at international conferences, Dr. DeFeo has presented in over 30 countries.