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By Dr. Harry Tennant

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Revisiting continuous improvement in knowledge work

What constitutes continuous improvement in knowledge work?

  1. Continually root out all waste
    • What wastes your time?
    • What wastes your talents and capabilities?
    • What is being redone that could be automated or templated?
    • Delve into why you do what you do. Is it all necessary and efficient?
    • Who else has solved this problem? Must you resolve it?
    • What do you do that creates no value (in the eyes of the customer)?
    • What processes are in place only because of inertia? What can be eliminated?
    • How can errors be eliminated (take them one at a time, error by error)? How can errors or defects be identified as early as possible?
    • What don't we know about what we are doing? How can we better understand it?
  2. Strive to make tacit knowledge explicit
    • Are you making dumb mistakes? Specify work as simple checklists.
    • What can be automated?
    • What can be streamlined with standard parts like templates, boilerplate and copy and paste?
    • Can you use the Pareto principle to make the easy 80% effortless while freeing time for the more challenging 20%
  3. Establish measurable goals
    • How can your process and goals become measureable?
    • How can your process become more visual?
    • How much measurement do you need to reduce uncertainty to make informed decisions?
  4. Specify how team members should communicate
    • What can be communicated through shared resources such as databases and knowledge bases?
    • How can you effectively communicate (i.e., share information) with others without interrupting them (answers on demand)?
    • Who needs to know what? Who does not need to know what (so don't bother her)?
    • What facts are needed to resolve common questions?
    • What are your most common errors or situations that arise? Can they be pre-solved once rather than re-solved every time they occur?
    • What is an error and what is a style preference? Who resolves style preferences?
  5. Use the scientific method to solve problems quickly
    • Have you defined the problem?
    • What evidence defines the problem?
    • What evidence would indicate that the problem has been solved?
    • What evidence shows that your changes are improvements?
    • Has your candidate solution solved the problem? If not, try another.
  6. Recognize that your processes are always a work in progress
    • Do you realize that your job is not to do your job, but to do your job better?
  7. Improve knowledge and skills
    • What have you learned?
    • What do you need to learn?
    • How can you learn it?
  8. Have leaders blaze the trail
    • Does management emphasize continuous improvement frequently and over a long time span?


Posted at 12:00 AM Keywords: continuous improvement , knowedge work 0 Comments

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