Beginning the CI Journey

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    Good Morning,

    I work for a company in Bolton called Carrs Pasties and we are at the start of our Continuous Improvement journey.

    I am new to the role and the role is also new to the company, I’m very excited and have been on courses and developed knowledge myself but I’m unsure how to sell it to the company and improve the culture.

    Thank you.


    Andrew Parr

    Hi @nicole1211,

    Welcome to “the House of Fun”. I’ve been doing this for more years than I care to remember and you will find many people on here who have far more expertise and experience than I can muster but I thought I’d lead off and see if I can give you a steer. Hopefully, this will get the others to chip in too.

    I don’t know if you are studying for a qualification but beware, some of us get stroppy if we are tasked to answer questions that are obviously homework. We did our own and would expect large amounts of money to do anyone else’s. That said, if you have a problem, feel free to express it here but bring some thoughts of how you think might start to solve it yourself. That way we are often happy to help and give you a steer.

    As far as selling to the Company, what problems are there that would benefit from being solved by what you have learned? Define a problem and then we have something concrete to do which hopefully, a successful solution will show your colleagues the benefits of CI and particularly the Lean Six Sigma approach.

    In addition, as we are in the same country, I should add that I may be able to provide a lot of information in return for a pasty (or two).





    Hello Andrew

    Thank you for responding.

    I have done lean courses but am not currently studying for a qualification. I appreciate people don’t want to give me the answers but I can assure you since I came into the role all I have done is homework and I thoroughly enjoy doing it. I’m just looking for guidance or tips from the experts.

    The company has done waste walks and are implementing Continuous Improvement, they just don’t realize it. The waste saving will benefit towards a new state of the art bakery as we have rapidly outgrown ours. I have the ideas, it’s just putting them across in the right way.

    Thank you for getting back to me – you can have a tray of pasties anytime! Our pasties are like gold in Bolton.

    Kind Regards



    Andrew Parr

    Hi nicole,

    I had a look at the website and the Company looks professional and based on tradition and Quality. It also looks to be growing but is the ambition just local or world domination?

    I can see there is some ambition there and hopefully you will be able to add lots of benefit to the Business. My first impression is that the new bakery is a critical step and something you can hopefully help with some simple things based on how the process of making pasties and sausage rolls will flow through the factory and probably things like “theory of Constraints” studies to remove or reduce bottlenecks.

    A Gemba Walk and some thought about flows and any changes required might pay off. I don’t know what input has gone into design or what stage the new bakery is at but there’s lots of little things that may be done to help. For example, what causes problems in the old factory and how can those problems be avoided in the new one? Is it easy to change from producing one flavour to another or from pasties to sausage rolls? Are production lines used effectively and what can be done automatically without losing the uniqueness of the Product.

    I envy you as it seems you have a blank canvass and plenty of opportunity to look at with a persuadable workforce and management. These comments are off the top of my head and hopefully useful for you to provoke things to think about. If not, please tell me!


    Joe Wojniak

    These are good directions, I’d also suggest talking to management about their immediate and mid-term goals. Identifying goals & barriers will help when deciding which improvements to tackle. Quick wins and visible successes are a great way to start and to build momentum and acceptance. As @andy-parr has stated, you have a wonderful opportunity! Good luck!



    Hi Nicole,

    I agree with what the others have said, in addition, my advice is to start slowly; sometimes you need to go slow to go fast and in your case I think this will be prudent.

    If I was in your shoes, and you are extremely lucky to be joining an organisation at the beginning of its continuous improvement journey, I would focus on the following three things (these will set the foundations for a strong sustainable continuous improvement culture):

    1. Leadership: does continuous improvement in your organisation have strong, authentic, accountable, accessible and visible leadership at all levels and in every function?
    2. Motivation: what is the driver for continuously improving? Are all employees motivated to improve? What will motivate them to improve?
    3. Capability: does your organisation have right skills, resources and capacity to continuously improve?

    I would consider “baselining” your current continuous improvement maturity and use this to demonstrate the value continuous improvement brings as you mature. In fact, you could treat your journey as a DMAIC project in itself.

    Happy to discuss in more detail (ijm3 @ hot mail . com)

    Take care,



    Keep in mind that many companies, at least in the United States, are most interested in hitting the numbers for the next financial report. I’d look for a “quick hit”. Something that should be relatively simple and inexpensive to improve. Do that and document bottom-line proof. Nothing sells like success.


    Mike Carnell

    @nicole1211 Your site looks like Carr’s Pasties is a privately held business. If so a couple of things to pay attention to. This is the owners baby. If they perceive criticism, in general, it is not received well. Think about how you say things. To prepare for this you can go to your local playground and stop mothers who are pushing their child in a stroller. Explain to the mother the child is ugly but you know an excellent plastic surgeon. This will be similar to discussions with an owner. Second if privately held it is money out of their pocket if there is a better way (this is from personal experience of owning a factory). If you have information about how much was sold last year – very specific information you can go to the recipes and calculate how much material should have been purchased to manufacture that many pastries. Compare that to the amount actually purchased and the difference between to two is basically the money that was wasted i.e. the size of the prize for efficiency. If you do not have access to long term data run some small studies and extrapolate to a yearly loss.

    Good luck.

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