This natural tendency to deprioritize improvement work represents a significant challenge but fortunately not an insurmountable one. What is required is a systematic approach that embeds improvement activities into the work flow of the plant so that they are routinized in a manner similar to the “operate and maintain” activities.
The most important paradigm shift that needs to occur to successfully embed CI into the DNA of the organization is to change people’s mental model such that they stop thinking of improvement work as a series of largely disjointed or unrelated activities competing for increasingly limited time and resources.
The approach for enabling this paradigm shift can’t be to introduce new CI methodologies (e.g., lean, Six Sigma, TPM, etc.) or tools (kaizens, SMED, kanbans, etc.) into the organization because, as described previously, the lack of priority for CI has little to do with the methodology or tools and a lot to do with the perception that improvement work is of secondary importance or otherwise distracts from more urgent operational matters.
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