Continuous Improvement Blog

by Brent Drever

Is Your Way of Teaching Outdated?

For those of you old enough to remember, think about the time when we had perfectly good working land lines and phones available on every street corner. They served their purpose well and there wasn’t a need to have more phones available, so where did the idea of a...

read more

It is Time to Get Unstuck

In working with Continuous Improvement Project leaders such as Black Belts or Lean Practitioners, I have observed many that were moving along in their Lean Six Sigma projects quite well, then one day they find that they are stuck. It may be that they are stuck in a...

read more

Is Change Personal in Business?

When discussing, business people often advise others to “not take it personally”, however when dealing with change in business it may be worth taking a second look to see if in fact the issues with change resistance are indeed personal. What you may find is that the...

read more

What is the Cost of World-Class?

Occasionally I get requests from clients who want the best Lean Six Sigma training course available and won’t take anything less. When I then ask how they plan to use the Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques, they aren’t sure because they don’t really understand what...

read more

What is the Hidden Value of “Free”?

When you see the word “free” in an advertisement or offer, people automatically look for the fine print. They immediately ask “What’s the catch?” and wonder what’s wrong or missing because no one offers anything for free without a reason. Even businesses can be weary...

read more

Looking to Champion a Lean Implementation? (Free Course)

The practice of eliminating waste in products or processes is something that many organizations are looking to implement. Commonly known as Lean, when you “lean” or eliminate waste in a product or service, you are not only making the product or service better, you are...

read more

What Does a 10X Return on Investment Look Like?

When you think of increasing anything by tenfold, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. Maybe you were having one person over for dinner, but now you are having 10 people. It certainly changes things and can seem like a difficult task, however in Continuous...

read more

Is Preparation Overrated?

People of all ages and across all industries are getting one constant message – preparation is important. It is a clear message that great minds have agreed is valuable advice, but why is preparation still not practiced routinely? For some, there is a misconception...

read more

What does a good Black Belt candidate look like?

One of the most common questions I am asked is “Who is the right person to go through Black Belt training (or any other continuous improvement leader program)?” Sometimes it comes from corporations that are looking to find the right employees to train, and other times...

read more

How a Good Sponsor Can Increase the Value of your Project

I occasionally see organizations that are excited about implementing continuous improvement projects but make the mistake of neglecting the role of a Project Sponsor. It may be that they aren’t assigned at all, or if they are, they are treated as an afterthought with...

read more

Who would you want to help you build a shed?

I have worked in the Continuous Improvement space for more than 2 decades and while many methodologies may peak with the trends in a global economy, one need has always been universal – quality project managers. Regardless of what methodology you are using, being an...

read more

How to get an ROI from your Master Black Belt Certification

At first glance, asking an organization to invest thousands of dollars into a Master Black Belt program for one individual may seem like a stretch, unless you know how to get a return on investment for your Master Black Belt training and certification. New Continuous...

read more

A Good, Better, and Best Approach for Project Selection

When organizations are implementing a Continuous Improvement program, it is common for everyone to be excited and want to be involved in selecting projects – and while there is no bad way to use Lean Six Sigma and Lean – there are approaches that are good, better and...

read more

Cultivating your Lean Six Sigma Ecosystem thru Training

Lean Six Sigma is a powerful methodology, but it cannot sustain an entire organization on its own. Organizations that have a robust continuous improvement mindset tend to think of Lean Six Sigma as an entire ecosystem, one in which each person inside the organization...

read more

Is Change Throwing you a Curveball?

It is no secret that everyone goes through change, but what is often missed is that everyone follows a similar path. While some may be more adaptable and willing to change than others, they will all follow the same roadmap on their journey through change. As...

read more

Data Overload – What should I do with all this data?

The image of someone drowning in a mass of data is something many of us can relate to because we may have found ourselves on a project and there is so much data coming at us that it is easy to become overwhelmed. Take a step back and remember that just a few years...

read more

Black Belt vs Green Belt – Which one is better?

Black Belt vs Green Belt Within companies that are implementing Lean Six Sigma, a common issue they face is trying to determine if they should train employees as Black Belts or Green Belts. Even for individuals seeking out their own training, it can be confusing to...

read more

Stop Falling in Love with your Data

In today’s world, people have a tendency to fall in love with data that isn’t overly meaningful. Take for instance the focus on people to measure themselves with likes, views, clicks or other metrics. Do these numbers really tell you the true value of a person – no....

read more

Embracing the Value of Patience

In an era of instant gratification, we lose sight of the importance of patience. Patience is simply understanding that things will happen over time. In the continuous improvement space, it is easy for a project leader to want to solve the problem immediately. They can...

read more

Is Your Customer Service Metric a Recipe for Disaster?

We all dread the call center with phone prompts because you find yourself in the space of never ending menu options. Why do companies do this? Well for one, they are attempting to get you to the right person because they are likely measuring how quickly that person...

read more

Tips for your Next Lean Six Sigma Project Status Meeting

When you run a Lean Six Sigma project, you generally have regularly scheduled sponsor meetings. In the Continuous Improvement community, we typically call these Tollgate Reviews however you may know them as Stage Gate Reviews or Milestone Meetings. Regardless of what...

read more

What is the Optimal Size of Lean Six Sigma Project Teams?

A common question from people who are new to Lean Six Sigma, or even from seasoned Lean Six Sigma Black Belts tackling a problem in uncharted territory, is how many people should be involved in the project? There has been a lot of research on this topic and the...

read more

The Dreaded “B” Word

We all know that person, who when asked how they are, their first response is “I’m so busy!” Then they launch into a list of all the things they have on their plate or complain about how they just can’t seem to get anything done simply because they are always so busy....

read more

Is Your Product or Process Simple to Use?

It’s no secret that the shortest distance from A to B is a straight line, and that’s because it’s simple. However, when designing a new product or process, the tendency is to create complexity in the design. This isn’t intentional as no one needs a more complicated...

read more

Benefits of Learning Outside of your Comfort Zone

Have you ever looked at a book, article or video and thought that you would never dive into something like that because it’s so far outside of what you do in your daily life? Before you dismiss them, ask yourself if they can actually help you become better. As...

read more

The 3 Methods to Increase Profitability

Almost every business has the same goal – to increase profitability, however many organizations find this to be the most challenging aspect of business simply because there isn’t one answer. They tend to either over-complicate or over-simplify their approach when in...

read more

3 Lessons from Delivering a TED Talk

I recently delivered a TED Talk and afterward I asked myself “What did I learn from the experience?” It was a reflective question and it reminded me that even as a presenter, it’s easy to be so focused on delivering our content that we forget that no matter what side...

read more

Are you a dinosaur leading your company to extinction?

First, let me start off by saying that your age (thankfully) has nothing to do with being a dinosaur in the workplace – it’s all about your attitude. Recently I attended a seminar about the future of online learning. The seminar included several speakers from...

read more

Are you a tourist, amateur or expert?

When I evaluate an individual’s skill level, I find that they fall into one of three categories: a tourist, amateur or expert. Like many things in life, it may be tempting to want to be an expert in everything, but each of these are vastly different and it is...

read more

Can simple Lean tools solve big business problems?

If you are trying to solve a big business problem, you likely know there are numerous methodologies that you can use but sometimes it may be helpful to take a step back to a more simplistic level and see if a tool is all that you really need. A great example of this...

read more

What is the value of Change Management?

A significant challenge that Change Management practitioners face is how to quantify what they do. As recently as a few years ago, managing change was considered to be abstract and because of that practitioners struggled to sell their services. Today however, Change...

read more

Are shiny objects draining your productivity?

Have you ever looked at the clock and realized that it’s nearly the end of the day and you still haven’t completed anything? Many people can be prone to what I like to call “chasing shiny objects” and very little gets done when you find yourself on this winding road....

read more

Tackling a Big Hairy Project

Every organization has large problems to solve which are managed by Project Leaders and their teams who work hard to come up with impressive solutions. What they often find however, is their proposed solution has turned into a “big, hairy project”.

read more

The Evolution of Learning

Where are you on the evolutionary scale? Take for instance this article, today there are numerous devices that you can view it on, but at one time, the only option was paper. It’s no secret that today’s world is

read more

How are you using your data?

Data is becoming easier to access, quicker to analyze, and cheaper to store. As a result, it provides incredible opportunities for organizations to see things from completely different

read more

How do you solve business problems?

There are always going to be problems to solve in your business, the list is endless. Every project has similar goals: to meet its objectives while completing it on time and

read more

Why you should choose simplicity

Imagine that you have a new service, product, or way to monitor data and have spent countless hours developing the perfect solution. Once you roll out the new process, no

read more

What is your customer response time?

In the competitive world of creating positive customer experiences, it is important to know how quickly your customers expect information from you. For example, if you are in sales,

read more

Why leaders never stop learning

Can you name the last three books you read? What was your inspiration to read them? What did you learn? How about the last workshop you attended? Did you acquire a new way of thinking?

read more

What would your coach say?

As a leader, your depth of knowledge is often put to the test. You are expected to have the knowledge required to make key decisions. What happens when you do not know the answer?

read more

Why do we get stuck in data analysis?

A few years ago a client asked me to help one of his Lean Six Sigma Black Belts who was struggling with data analysis. My first step was to evaluate his data to gain a better

read more

What do your customers want?

To answer this question, let’s start by identifying your customers. Are they the end consumer of your product or service? Are they the intermediary who re-sells your product?

read more

What are you really good at?

Fill in the blank, I am good at____________. As leaders we are expected to be good at many things: vision, strategy, communication, decision making, relationship management, etc.

read more

Are you addicted to saying yes?

Yes, let’s increase the scope of the project; Yes, let’s initiate multiple organization wide projects; Yes let’s do this; Yes, let’s do that. By saying yes all the time, what does it tell us

read more

How listening is a powerful catalyst for change

While on a business trip, a friend stopped by my house to catch up. This friend also happens to be a competitor of mine and it did not take long to realize that he was all business and had something important to share.

read more

Why are elephants so hard to ride?

Often there are two driving forces behind managing change, logic and emotion. The first is typically a number crunching exercise. With logic we say, “The data clearly shows us

read more

Is managing to the average good enough?

We like the word “average”. We use it every day in all aspects of what we do. “The average hold time is 2 minutes”; “Our average turnaround time is 15 days”; “On average

read more

How do you navigate through change?

The goal of managing through change is to move from a current state to a future state with the least amount of resistance. Sometimes a change happens with ease and other times it is incredibly difficult. Imagine change management as positioning yourself on one side of...

read more

Is Lean Six Sigma still relevant?

In order to stay relevant one needs to adapt to meet the needs of its current audience. Let's take a look at Six Sigma, a commonly applied business process improvement methodology throughout many companies worldwide. For those that have been around business...

read more