Summary of The Ultimate Improvement Cycle

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Many business professionals have practiced Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints. Many others have a working knowledge of the benefits, claims and limitations of these three widely acclaimed methods of improving business processes. Bob Sproull combines the strengths of these three methods into a blended set of process upgrades he calls the “Ultimate Improvement Cycle.” If you are familiar with manufacturing operations and these various schools of thought on process improvement, the book’s language, charts and graphs will be accessible and useful. It may rely too much on insider jargon and data for those who are new to the field, although many of the concepts apply to nonmanufacturing firms as well. getAbstract recommends this book to professionals with an operational orientation because they will best appreciate Sproull’s refreshing approach to combining the three most common process-improvement methods.

About the Author

Bob Sproull, an experienced manufacturing executive, consults with manufacturers on improving their operations and advises private equity firms about investments in manufacturing turnarounds.



A Blended Approach to Process Improvement

Lean Manufacturing will help you identify waste and eliminate all nonvalue-adding activities from your business processes, but it won’t help you provide high-quality products and services. Six Sigma will help you improve quality, but it won’t help you remove constraints and lags from your production cycle. The Theory of Constraints (TOC) will help you identify and remove lag from your production cycle, but it may not adequately address quality and waste. You need a method that integrates Lean, Six Sigma and TOC in a blended approach to ongoing process improvement. That is the “Ultimate Improvement Cycle” (UIC).

The UIC combines the strengths of Lean, Six Sigma and the TOC, and eliminates their individual weaknesses. It is a step-by-step process that can help your company exploit its improvement capabilities and enhance its return on investment. The UIC helps you maximize “throughput,” (the way products move through your manufacturing process), minimize inventory and restrain operating costs. It has four steps:

  1. Identify what needs to be eliminated or improved to reach your financial potential.

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