Continuous Improvement Process

Type of record:
  • Strategy method
  • Macro method
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Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
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The aim of a continuous improvement process (CIP) is to achieve a continuous and incremental improvement of the production processes and the product, process and service qualities through appropriate teamwork. The continuous improvement process is a method that has been known for many years and that is often controversially discussed. Depending on many factors, there are just as many CIP projects that achieve good results and those that have failed miserably.

Based on the well-known Japanese Kaizen philosophy, this method does not aim at a radical but a continuous incremental improvement. The first step is to decide in team rounds what should be improved. In the next step, the actual and target states are described using key figures.

Once existing problems have been described and evaluated, the causes of the problems can be searched for. Subsequently, solution ideas are collected and evaluated in order to select suitable solution ideas to solve the problem. After a decision has been taken, appropriate measures are implemented and the success is checked.

The advantage of this method is that, in addition to process optimization and the associated cost and time optimization, it also awakens employee skills such as creativity and commitment and improves the corporate culture.

Known characteristics of a continuous improvement process are:
- CIP is primarily a mindset that all employees must deeply internalize.
- CIP is always characterised by a multitude of measures, which are primarily implemented quickly and unbureaucratically in everyday life.
- There are no limitations to KVP in terms of application focus; products, services, processes, activities, technology, workplace - everything in an organization can be improved.
- CIP is not scheduled, it is to be understood continuously.
- CIP makes use of many different methods and tools; the decisive factor is the effect, not the procedure.

Central operating principles are: Sorting out, avoidance, cleanliness, tidiness, order, simplicity, standardisation as well as defining and adhering to rules.

The "Continuous Improvement" mindset was significantly influenced by Toyota and the Toyota production system. It has been widely used since the early 1990s with lean management and under the Japanese term kaizen.

CIP is usually distinguished from innovation management or company suggestion schemes, which rather refer to a formally defined process in the respective company. In contrast, measures in CIP are implemented more informally and virally.
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for low complex challenges
  • Effective for medium complex challenges
  • Effective for process innovations
  • Effective for product innovations
  • Effective for service innovations
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