What Is Continuous Improvement?

Lean Principle 4 – Continuous Improvement and Problem Solving

Goal: Every person, everywhere in the organisation, involved in daily improvements.


Graphic showing the Hoshin deployment (policy deployment) and CI principle of Lean


The purpose of Continuous Improvement is to improve the margin and reduce cost by involving everyone in a structured process of problem solving and idea resolution. Its intent is to provide the organisation with a benchmark model for transformation to win market share through year on year productivity and performance improvements.


  • Year on year improvement in productivity and performance of 5-10%
  • People engaged and actively involved
  • Community of ‘scientists’ experimenting through PDCA

It is essential to define clearly within the organisation that continuous improvement consists of two elements:

Idea generation – tapping into the innovations and ideas of every employee. In this case, we are not looking for a root cause to solve.  sometimes we just have good ideas.  Organisations can tap into the idea resources of all members of staff if they provide the right conditions and environment.  This is about having a bit of fun and thinking out of the box.

Problem Solving – resolving issues that are impacting upon the process, either causing defects, customer complaints or a drop in performance.  Problem-solving to root cause and coming up with resolutions that deal with the root cause permanently.

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This page was written by Mark Radley in February 2018.
Due for review in 2019.

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