What the key continuous improvement techniques? Is Fire Fighting one of them?

Photo: a cat watching a mouse scurry down steps. - enjoying his work. He is skilled in mouse catching and knows what to do at all times. Practices Continuous Improvement by learning from his mistakes. Some folk actually enjoy their work...

Continuous Improvement (CI) takes effort: extra work. And who needs that when we all have more than enough to do?


Do you operate in a reactive mode, waiting for failures then initiating a mad rush to fix them. It even has a "formal" name: fire-fighting.


If we are lucky, we learn that "reactive" is bad and "proactive" is good. But how do we get from RE to PRO? Why is it that every company is not world class?


If I had to single out one area where reactive behaviour is more than common, it would be maintenance.  "We don't have time for maintenance: the machines are always breaking down! We never get a break."


And off we go in to the loop until someone bites the bullet and decides to end the loop - and stop the same failures repeating time and again, eating the profits and running the production schedule for you.

So, what are the main processes we hear about?


There are a few but, I would say the most common are Lean Manufacturing and 5S, which is generally seen as a component of lean, but is also an element in other techniques and can, to a degree, stand alone.


What is 5S?