B. Common improvement terms (glossary)

The following list of terms may be used in the field of improvement and this section gives an overview of what they mean.

5 Whys template - is a sheet that helps you structure your answers when using 5 Why’s.  

5 Whys - is a problem solving technique which involves asking “Why” in response to a problem statement. It usually requires five Why’s to identify the root cause of the problem. 

5S - is a system that includes five activities for identifying and eliminating waste and necessary for implementing workplace organization. 

A3 – a visual tool on A3 sized paper to help you focus on making improvements, covering the improvement, who will be involved, when, where and impact.

Andon - is a Japanese term for “lantern”. In industry it means a signal light. It is designed as a visual aid to bring attention and action in response to the status of a process. Colour coding will determine if a process is performing in normal or abnormal condition.

Cycle time - is the fixed time it takes to do one repetition of any particular task. Cycle time can separated into three categories, manual cycle time, machine cycle time and auto cycle time. 

JIT (Just in time) - Production methodology characterized by continuous one-piece-at-a-time flow production accomplished according to takt time, the pulling forward of inventory through signals generated by customer demand, and using the absolute minimum resources of man, material, and machines to make only what is needed – when it is needed. 

Kaizen - is a Japanese term meaning ‘change for the better’ or ‘incremental improvement’. In Lean Manufacturing it is defined as a team event to identify the root causes of waste and find solutions to eliminate them. 

Kanban - is a Japanese term for ‘sign’. It is a technique used as part of a Pull System that signals to the production floor that the customer has ‘pulled’ or bought the product from the producer. Cards, carts, boxes, and electronic signals are examples of types of kanban in common usage. In process kanbans are sometimes used as a method to balance material flow between otherwise unbalanced operation times. 

Lead time - is the time between the receipt of an order to the shipment of the finished product regardless of actual production time. 

Non value added work – is any work that is needed due to the systems or processes in use today but that does not contribute any value to the service or to patient/customer satisfaction. 

PDCA - see PDSA.  

PDSA - The procedure is to develop a plan with defined and focused activities, do the activities defined in the plan, study the outcome from the planned activities, and determine if they meet the planned expectations, if “NO” take action to correct the problem.

Process mapping - is a technique of documenting the detailed flow of a part or delivery of a service throughout the required cycle of steps to completion. 

Spaghetti diagram - is a hand drawn or computer drawn diagram showing the movements in a process.  The movements could be information, material or people. 

Stakeholder analysis - is one of the first steps you should take in any change project.  It enables you to identify everyone with a concern or interest who needs to be involved. 

Standard work - is a method for identifying the best practices and documenting them. 

Standardisation - is a concept about explaining and deciding the baseline about a procedure or task. Having a “normal” way of doing things it is much easier do identify and recognise the deviations. 

Takt time - is the pace that a production process must work at to meet customer demand. Takt time is calculated using the available time divided by the customer demand. Takt is a German word for ‘beat’ or ‘pulse’. 

Value added work - is work activity that changes the fit, form and function of a product. It is something the customer is willing to pay for. 

Value stream mapping - is a method to draw a diagram that is a graphical representation of every step involved in the information and material flows of a process. 

Visual management - is a system of recognition to tell at a glance if a production process is working in a normal or abnormal state. 

Waste - is any activity that absorbs resources and does not add value for the customer. The eight types of waste are. 

Waste wheel - is seven types of waste: Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Wating, Over-production, Over-processing and Defects.