Several Names, Same Goal: to Improve

There are several synonyms for improvement. Some use the letters CI, innovation experts will talk about incremental innovation, and others, Kaizen. The goal remains the same: to define a simple and functional mechanism to actively collect and implement employee ideas. Because no matter what process, product or service, there is always room for improvement.


The Genesis of Continuous Improvement

With the Industrial Revolution, Frederick Taylor and Frank Gilbreth decided that the best way to produce large volumes of product was to apply a scientific method to break down work into simple, repetitive tasks. A management team is then responsible for monitoring production. The employee, unlike in the days of artisanal work, is no longer in control of the working methods to be employed. As early as 1901, Henry Gantt, a colleague of Frederick Taylor, introduced the idea of ​​reintroducing employees to the improvement process.

Between 1940 and 1945, suggestion boxes were deployed thanks to the “Training Within Industries” (TWI) program supported by the United States. They are used for two reasons: (1) suggestion boxes are a low cost way to improve operations and reduce costs and (2) they allow employees to be involved in improving work methods and improving their working conditions. In 1949, when American forces occupied Japan, it was the Japanese turn to be exposed to suggestion boxes. The following started the Kaizen current: improvement in small steps.

In the 1980s in the United States, interest in continuous improvement was revived during a major crisis in the automotive sector in the United States that caused the loss of more than 600,000 jobs. These established companies are being pushed by new players like Toyota to refocus their efforts on offering quality products. To control their process, many interventions are carried out: production monitoring, the introduction of quality controls and the standardization of work procedures.

The Two Main Streams of Continuous Improvement

Today, the dissemination of continuous improvement practices in organizations is guided by two main trends:

Lean is based on reviewing processes to ensure that they directly deliver value to customers. The methodology is distinguished by the importance given to the identification of waste, the mapping of processes, the 5S method, visual management, management of the bottleneck. Its implementation is faster than Six Sigma.



Six Sigma requires a great mastery of scientific concepts to reduce defects or production stoppages. The goal is to reduce the number of defects to a maximum of 3.44 defective units per million units. To address areas for improvement, the method focuses on measuring the quality of products or services, reducing variations and risks, in particular using FMEA (Analysis of Failure Methods, their Effects and their Criticality). ).

Several members of the continuous improvement community propose to combine the two streams to form Lean Six Sigma.


Why Is Continuous Improvement Important?

More than ever, companies must use all the resources they have to increase their productivity and adapt quickly.

“Just one idea from one employee reduced recurring costs by $ 33,000”
Mario Garcia, Director of Operations at Boulart

Ideas, problems or irritants are opportunities to improve. Offering a quality product or service is the key concern of successful organizations. Improvement initiatives support these efforts by offering ideas to:

  • Reduce material losses
  • Reduce delivery and production times
  • Improve inter-quarter and interdepartmental communication
  • Improve the safety and ergonomics of workstations
  • Simplify the way things are done: how to make something easier to understand or to achieve

Why Focus on Continuous Improvement in 2021?

Bambou Space’s services contribute to the economic and operational stability of your company by structuring the following mechanisms:

  • Support two-way communication by cascading strategic priorities into your work teams
  • Capturing customer concerns or problems to implement concrete solutions
  • Develop versatility in your work teams in anticipation of absenteeism or the interruption of relations with your partners
  • Adapt your working methods to facilitate teleworking
  • Facilitate the manager’s delegation to his team

All these mechanisms are in line with the recommendations of accountants to deal with the changes linked to the pandemic.

Source : CPA (2020), Guidance for the profession,


How to Bring Your Continuous Improvement Process to Life?

While the positive impact of continuous improvement initiatives on the performance of organizations has been demonstrated on several occasions, the sustainable implementation of these in organizations remained difficult with traditional tools such as emails, whiteboards or Excel files. Can we sustain employee engagement through a system of suggestions? Certainly.

We know that no two organizations are the same. At Bambou Space, we are convinced that support is the key to successful implementation of a sustainable approach supported by the Bottom-Up ™ Solution. Our experts identify opportunities, guide the discussion with your work team and prepare a communication plan with activities throughout the year. Click here to discover our support.


The 4 Traps of Continuous Improvement


Thinking That the Manager Must Implement the Solutions Alone

Today, the manager receives good ideas on a piece of paper, by email or in person. He must coordinate several exchanges to find the right people, perform the analysis, prepare the actions and communicate with the author of the idea for the final answer. Faced with the complexity of communication, it is not uncommon for the process to stop and good ideas to be put aside.


Decrease the Relevance of Employee Ideas

It is true that without context or a structured method, it can be difficult to identify ideas that have real value for the business. Some people also find it difficult to express their ideas in front of others.


Believing That the Impact of Continuous Improvement Initiatives Cannot Be Measured

Today, it can seem difficult to communicate the results of your ongoing endeavor. By definition, these are several small, ongoing actions. Without the right tool, it becomes difficult to measure and communicate results.