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Continuous Improvement Techniques That Work

Strategies for transforming you and your organization through continuous improvement
GWW Staff

GWW Opinion

GWW Staff

June 27, 2023

Do you find yourself facing the same challenges over and over on your projects and teams?

If you feel stuck in the movie Groundhog Day, you are not alone. Now more than ever, government agencies are faced with constantly changing technologies and customer needs that can make progress seem out of reach. This is why our team adopted the Kaizen approach to be more effective at reaching project goals and meeting customer needs. Kaizen, which means “change for the good”, is a mindset of continuous analysis and improvement popularized by the Toyota Production System to help agile teams develop from experience.

GovWebworks’ Kaizen journey began when Director of Software Development, Kevin Ferguson, and some colleagues took on the challenge of introducing the Kaizen mindset of continuous improvement to the software development team to encourage employees to suggest ideas to solve common problems and improve processes.

Kevin designed a year-long roadmap to dig into a new topic each month that would bring benefit to our organization. There were three topics he found most helpful over the course of the year. The techniques associated with each topic were also what helped Kevin to carry through with the Kaizen project itself, and reach one of his goals of writing the following blog posts:

What seemed like an impossible goal when he first started was ultimately achieved in a series of small steps. These steps resulted in monthly presentations to the team, blog posts on the topics above, and finally, a white paper on Kaizen Techniques That Really Work.

Our hope is that sharing these strategies will in turn inspire you to share them with others and carry on the process of improvement and transformation at your own organization.

We invite you to:

Improve outcomes with goals

Kevin’s five steps to turn an idea into an outcome:

  1. Define a high-quality goal
    The value should be apparent, the outcome compelling, and the idea a little scary. Mine was to set up a Kaizen continuous improvement program at my company.
  2. Get the rest of Kevin’s steps

“The concept of Kaizen resonated for me because it provided values and guiding principles that could help me and my company to become more effective.”

— Kevin Ferguson, Director of Software Development at GovWebworks and author of Kaizen Techniques That Really Work, a white paper on strategies that can transform you and your organization through continuous improvement.

Kevin's Five Steps to Turn an Idea Into an Outcome

Improve clarity with Theory of Constraints

Kristen’s top five tips for improving clarity:

  1. Gain perspective
    Theory of Constraints (TOC) is about going up a level. It’s hard to understand New York City when you’re in it, but when you’re looking down from a helicopter you can see the big picture.
  2. Get the rest of Kristen’s tips

“A lot of times in government, people want to add things. We’re saying value is created when you remove a significant limitation in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

— Kristen Cox, TOC expert and author with Dr. Yishai Ashlag of Stop Decorating the Fish: Which Solutions to Ignore and Which Problems Really Matter and The World of Decorating the Fish.

Kristen's Top Five Tips for Improving Clarity

Improve leadership with a coaching mindset

Bob’s top three tips for Improving leadership:

    1. Practice self mastery
      The professional coaching stance reminds us that you are not responsible for changing another person, that person is responsible for changing him or her self. All you can control is your own mindset and self-mastery.
    2. Get the rest of Bob’s tips

“Putting on the mindset of a coach means you let go of outcomes and step back and honor the client’s objectives, goals, and agenda.”

— Bob Galen, agile coach and author of five books including Extraordinarily Badass Agile Coaching.

Bob's Top Three Tips for Improving Leadership

Learn more

Kevin Ferguson’s Kaizen articles:

Industry Experts interviews:

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