Improving  50% is easy, improving 5% is difficult | Chris Hohmann

“It is with this enigmatic sentence that one of my Japanese mentors introduced the growing difficulty with continuous improvement. What it means is that at the beginning of an improvement program or when starting in a new area, the first and usually the easiest actions bring big improvement, hence the “easy” 50%. This is also…”

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Michel Baudin‘s comments:

I have been using this method, but for the categorization of improvement ideas within a project rather than whole projects. For example, starting a SMED project on a machine with a 30-minute setup time, you find that you can get it down to 12 minutes in one week for $300 by organizing and prepositioning tool carts. This is your A idea.

Then you find that, by modifying a fixture on the machine, you can get it down to 4 minutes, in three months for $5,000. That’s your B idea. Finally, you discover that an automation retrofit can get it down to 2 minutes, in a year for $50,000, and it is a C idea.

The one issue I have with applying this kind of thinking to whole projects is that the scope of “low-hanging fruits” changes over time with the skill level of the work force. Much of what appears inaccessible at the outset of your transformation becomes cheap and easy by its third year.

I also find that how long and how much money it will take to implement an idea is easier for teams to work with than a metric like ROI. The economic justification of improvement projects is a difficult and sensitive subject.

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