Development of a Framework for Comparing Performance Improvement Programs

Keywords framework Development of a Framework for Comparing Performance Improvement Programs
Standards groups

Probably the foremost of these efforts had their roots in the old “Quality of
Work Life” and “Efficiency Improvement” initiatives. But the earliest of the
corporate transformation efforts that we are focusing on was perhaps the “total
quality management” efforts of late ‘80s. Then came the “six sigma” program
pioneered by Motorola. Along the way ISO 9000 somehow got inextricably mixed
with TQM and later on diminished to some extent. A little later the concepts of
“Toyota Production System”, “Lean Manufacturing”, and “Lean Enterprises”
was brought forward by the International Motor Vehicle Program of MIT and
continued further on by the Lean Aerospace Initiative Program of the same
institute. TQM and Six Sigma, however, continued to be championed by some
other groups at the same time. But the story does not end here. Several other
improvement programs (or improvement strategies) have been pioneered by yet
other groups, and they have also continued to exist to date. Notable among these are the Time Based Competition (TBC), Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM), Agile Manufacturing, Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Business Process
Reengineering, and so on. Business Process Reengineering somehow got
relegated down to office operations only but it is not yet understood fully if it is a part of TQM or something different from it.

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Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, Reengineering, Quick Response Manufacturing, Agility, Variance Reduction, and Lean are seven of the most popular initiatives employed by the manufacturing industry as improvement programs. Similarities, differences, and interrelationships among these seven
programs in terms of objectives, concepts, methodologies, and scope have remained confusing to the industry for quite some time. Likewise, selection of one of these, or integration of several of these preexisting in a corporation, has also remained a problematic issue in the industry. This report attempts to reduce this confusion and resolve the pertinent issues. Besides presenting a thorough discussion on the subject, it brings forth two useful things: a comparison chart showing similarities, differences, and
interrelationships among the seven improvement programs, and a decision model suggesting a step by step process for adopting a new improvement initiative. The latter suggests a toolbox approach in which an integrated set of performance metrics based on a combination of three of these programs is recommended. Implementation tools for improving the same metrics are also
selected based on the speed of change desired. A decision tree facilitating such a selection between a slow/incremental and a fast/radical change has also been presented. The importance of leadership commitment and clarity of vision in the success of an improvement program have also been emphasized. This work is based on a literature search and an industrial survey carried out
with the assistance of LAI member companies. LAI, or Lean Aerospace Initiative, is a consortium of aerospace companies, government organizations, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Khusrow M. Uzair
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