The Whiteboard Way©

The Whiteboard Way© is a practical way to begin your process improvement journey. It’s not a lengthy, complex, and expensive methodology. Rather, it’s a simple approach using the best and most helpful tools from a number of proven quality methodologies. With this 6-step approach, you and your team will be up-to-speed and improving your business in no time.

Define It!

Probably the most critical (and sometimes most difficult) step in any kind of process improvement activity is the first step - defining what's wrong.

Sounds easy, right? Well, done right, it's actually pretty tricky.The key is to be able to express the issue without assuming what the root of the problem is, or what the solution might be. It's also important to include some kind of baseline performance data that will not only prove the need for an improvement project and show alignment to the organization's goals, but will show the extent of the improvement after it's implemented. Concepts and tools we use include:

  1. Outputs and Inputs, or Y=f(x)
  2. Voice of the Customer (VOC) and Critical to Quality (CTQ)
  3. Definition of a Defect
  4. Cost of Poor Quality
  5. Problem Statement

Deliverables in the "Define It" Stage:

  1. Customer(s) Identified
  2. High Level Data Identified
  3. Opportunity Defined

Draw It!

Once the issue is properly expressed via a problem statement, the next step is to prepare a visual representation of what's going on in the current state.

Most people (65%) are visual learners - that is, they are more likely to "get it" when they view an image, than they will if they merely listen to someone talk about it, or read a report. A well-drawn process map not only helps visual learners comprehend the scope of the current state, but it also allows people to identify:

  1. Touch points. How many people, teams, departments must a product or service pass through to reach the customer? The higher the number of touch points in the process the longer the process will take, and the higher likelihood that a defect will occur.
  2. Duplication. Process maps are great at visually highlighting work that is duplicated across the company by different teams.
  3. Bottlenecks. Bottlenecks occur when there is a blockage in the flow of information or work (like that approval sitting on your boss's desk right now!).

Concepts and tools we use include:

  1. Process Mapping
  2. Idea Scoping

Deliverables in the "Draw It" Stage:

  1. As-is Process Map Drawn
  2. Opportunity Scoped

Analyze It!

In this phase we focus on understanding and collecting data in order to help you tell your story and be successful in proving and selling your ideas. It can not be overstated that data is one of the most important keys to being successful in influencing others to gain approval or engagement for your ideas.

It’s all about the story and bringing your audience along in a logical way, and focusing on the right measures.

This statement is the foundation of the Analyze It! phase, because too often we measure the wrong things and take the wrong actions, and nothing is fixed.

Think about your workplace. How many of the metrics that you use are based on averages? Sure, averages give us information. Yet it is the outliers that get the most attention! The people who are at the upper and lower end of the quality are most likely to be vocal about it. And for this reason, we focus on variation.

In fact, we want you to remember that variation is evil. Really, really evil.

Concepts and tools we use include:

  1. Types of Data
  2. Stratification & Sampling
  3. Measurement Systems Analysis
  4. Root Cause Analysis
  5. The Hidden Factory

Deliverables in the "Analyze It" Stage:

  1. Data Collection Plan
  2. Data Check Sheet
  3. Basic Charts & Graphs

Imagine It!

In this fourth phase we are finally ready to think about solutions.

This is a favourite step for all the "dreamers" in the organization - those who like to say "what if we tried this", or "here's an idea". We brainstorm all the potentials things that are impacting the current state, and envision what a perfect future state would look like. Finally, we pick the right place to focus the improvement efforts.Concepts and tools we use include:

  1. Fishbone Diagram
  2. Process Mapping
  3. Error Proofing

Deliverables in the "Imagine It" Stage:

  1. Root Causes Brainstormed
  2. Key Inputs Identified
  3. Should-Be Process Map Drawn
  4. Defect Prevention Opportunities Identified

Prove It!

At this point, we help people build their case. 

The great work done so far has proven what is wrong, why it's wrong, and what the critical improvement areas are. Now we need some approvals to proceed - especially if some capital outlay is required - and getting those approvals requires a business case. KeyConcepts and tools we use include:

  1. Data Definition
  2. Data Collection Plan
  3. Cost/Benefit Analysis

Deliverables in the "Prove It" Stage:

  1. ROI Calculated
  2. High-level Business Case Completed

Talk About It!

Communicate, get stakeholders on board, and implement. 

You might have come up with the best idea since sliced bread, but unless you talk about it, share it and explain it to others, it will not actualize itself.Have you heard of Alfred Russel Wallace? No? Bet you’ve heard of Charles Darwin. The difference? One communicated, the other didn’t.There are three key elements to consider when you’re communicating.

  1. When to communicate.
  2. What to communicate.
  3. How to communicate.

Concepts and tools we use include:

  1. Change Management
  2. Communication Plan
  3. Engagement Plan
  4. Project Management Essentials

Deliverables in the "Talk About It" Stage:

  1. Management Approval Gained
  2. Project Team Identified
  3. Project Management Basics Implemented