The ‘insight’ stage involves ‘getting under the skin’ of the area for improvement. It is an examination of the current method or the problem area being studied and a definition of the problem or problems. It’s important to go through this stage partly to understand the scope of what needs to be done and partly to define exactly the requirements of the planned improvement. Often at this stage a formal goal or target for the improvement is set.
After definition comes analysis. It is important because it is essential to work with hard evidence rather than opinion. Analysis involves validating the problem (to make sure it is really worth solving), using data to refine the problem and measuring exactly what is happening. The analysis stage can be seen as an opportunity to develop an understanding of what the root causes of the problem really are.
Once the real causes of the problem, or barriers to improvement, are identified, work can begin on improving the process. The ‘options’ stage generates the (possibly several) ideas that could potentially remove the root causes of problems. After which the various options can be evaluated against the criteria derived at the ‘insight’ stage to assess which (if any) could be developed to be the basis for improvement. Inevitably, evaluating options will involve some consideration of how each option would be implemented.
This is the implementation stage during which the option, or options, is made to happen.
This involves formulating a plan of action that specifies exactly how the improvement is to be executed, and how success can be judged. It follows then that this stage also includes a formal evaluation of the changes to see whether it has resulted in the expected improvement. It is also at this stage that changes are consolidated or standardized any lessons learned from the experience before the cycle starts again.