Breakthrough Improvement

Definition of Breakthrough Improvement:

[Excerpted from Managing for Continuous and Breakthrough Improvement]

Excerpted from Managing for Continuous and Breakthrough Improvement

Breakthrough improvement involves major improvements in key business areas. They are often chronic problems solved permanently through focused, dedicated resources working for a limited period of time. Due to the investments in time and attention required, breakthrough improvement projects are selected by a management group that typically acts as a steering group. The improvement goal is between 50 and 95 percent improvement in four to 12 months, depending on project scope. Usually the scope of inquiry crosses multiple functional boundaries. These are good opportunities for developing next-generation leaders, an equally important aspect of creating an enduring quality culture. Breakthrough improvement projects yield the highest economic return in the short- to medium-term.

In contrast, continuous improvement is about many, small improvements initiated and implemented by anyone and everyone in the organization to improve the quality of their working processes and practices. Simplifying administrative processes by eliminating unnecessary copies, installing racks for organizing equipment in a more visual and orderly fashion, color-coding dossiers in a lab for easy identification are all examples of continuous improvement. It both reflects and creates a culture of quality.

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