Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – November 2014

Welcome to November 2014 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

We are presently exploring Continual Improvement. October 2014 edition delved into basics of Continual Improvement.

We continue our journey of Continual Improvements and look at Continual Improvement vs. Continuous Improvement in the present edition.

Continual vs. continuous

Continual : Duration that continues over a long period of time ,but can be interrupted, chiefly restricted to what recurs regularly or frequently in a prolonged and closely spaced series Examples: Reckless driving is a continual threat to our community.

Continuous : Continuing in time or space without interruption Examples : There is a continuous humming of bees outside my window.

“Continuous” versus “continual”

In English-language linguistic prescription there is a common piece of usage advice that the word “continuous” should be used for things that are continuous in a way literally or figuratively equal to the mathematical sense of the word, whereas the word “continual” should be used for things that continue in discrete jumps (that is, quantum-wise). When this distinction is enforced, it is more accurate to speak of “continual improvement” and “continual improvement processes” than of “continuous improvement” or “continuous improvement processes”.

Meanwhile, for several decades it has been common usage in the linguistic corpus of business management to use the one set term, “continuous improvement”, to cover both graph shapes in an umbrella fashion. It is merely the way the word has been conventionally used in this context, in a common understanding that existed regardless of prescriptive preferences. However, ISO has chosen the more careful usage for its standards including ISO 9000 and ISO 14000; so it may be reasonable to expect that usage among business managers will evolve in coming decades to conform to the preferred usage (and in some cases, already has).

Continuous improvement Vs Continual improvement

There is a difference. Let us start by analyzing the semantics of these words.

Continuous indicates duration without interruption.

Continual indicates duration that continues over a long period of time, but with intervals of interruption.

Continuous improvement means that organizations are in a constant state of driving process improvements. This involves a focus on linear and incremental improvement within existing processes.

Continual improvements means that organizations go through process improvements in stages and these stages are separated by a period of time. This period of time might be necessary to understand if the improvements did actually help the bottom line! In some cases, the results might take a while to come to fruition.

Continuous Improvement vs. Continual Improvement

In practical terms you can think of an alarm clock ringing and ringing without interruption as continuously ringing. Hitting the snooze button of a ringing alarm clock only to have it start ringing again later that morning and then hitting the snooze button again, would be an example of a continually ringing alarm clock. If the alarm clock did not go off at all and we could sleep in that may be ideal, just as it may be good to take a break from kaizen on some days so that ideas and energies can be refreshed. Neither continuous improvement nor continual improvement implies that we spend every waking (no sleeping) moment doing kaizen.

The Continual Improvement vs. Continuous Improvement Dilemma…

We see a substantial difference between continual and continuous.

Please bear in mind however that in the “eyes” of ISO 9000 there is no difference between continual and continuous. The concept of “continual” improvement is the term that Deming always used in reference to the general processes of improvement.

Deming’s understanding of improvement was much broader then many people seem to understand. He included people, as well as systems in his views and philosophy. Deming’s application of SPC (Statistical Process Control) was focused primarily on continuous improvement of existing (and almost exclusively manufacturing) processes. His philosophical discussions, however, included considerations much further “upstream” as applied to other less repetitive management arenas.

The concept of “continual improvement” is understood here to be the general strategy that typically consists of both “continuous process improvements,” like SPC, and “discontinuous function or systemic improvements” like organizational “reengineering” or throwing out dysfunctional methods of management and starting over instead of trying to continually improve ineffective business strategies. Also included are Deming’s 14 Points of Management.

Continual improvement is broader in scope than continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is a subset of continual improvement. Continual improvement also includes room for *discontinuous* improvements (improvements that are not like in kind to what came before – another term for this might be innovative or radical improvements such as are sought after in most reengineering efforts, or in the lean manufacturing movement). Continuous improvements are linear, incremental improvements to an existing process (Kaizen). Continual improvement includes this, as well as discontinuous/innovative improvement. In other words, continual improvement speaks to the PROCESS of improvement (always and forever (continually) ongoing, in all of its forms and in all areas) rather than the NATURE of the improvements (continuous vs discontinuous).

Thinking of continual improvement vs. continuous improvement serves to highlight the importance of developing learning disciplines on a much deeper level than most organizations seem interested in considering. If continual improvement is to be attained, the organization will be, by definition a learning organization.

Difference Between Continuous Improvement and Continual Improvement

Continuous improvement is a technique used for improving the efficiency of the process by eliminating waste and non-value adding activities. This was practiced through various Japanese concepts like Lean, Kaizen, 5S, etc. Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort used in developing products, services or processes.

Continual improvement is about identifying and making changes that would result in better outcomes which is a central concept to quality management theories.

Innovation vs. Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a linear process pointed at creating stable processes. Innovation is a nonlinear process involving non-stable processes;

An innovation is when you change the game; you bring a different twist to what is currently established, and perceived. Continuous improvement is by tweaks of things in the old fashion way to bring efficiency. But, even a very small improvement leveraging a new way of doing thing, bringing an outside method, or view, shifting the paradigm, is innovation.

Continuous improvement takes specialty; while innovation is trans-disciplinary. Continuous improvement = technical specialists making the product/service more efficient, up-to-date to the consumer needs. Innovation happens when a non-specialist questions the rules of the game, inventing knowledge transfers and goes outside the industry to invent a radical new way to respond to the ‘job to be done’.

The broader the scope, scale and impact of the change, the more one leans towards calling such change an innovation

Innovation is “a change that adds stakeholder value”. Now if your stakeholders are internal process owners and your output stakeholders are the same, the type of innovation you have is Continuous Innovation.

Continuous Improvement or Continual Improvement: The Same Thing or Different?

..continual improvement is about making changes to make things better, but not in a continuous way. Continual improvement may involve creating a new process to address a problem. Continuous improvement is a more linear thing, where the same problem would likely be addressed incrementally through improvements to existing processes.

Continual Improvement or Continuous Improvement?

Continual Improvement is more about planning and implementing strategic programmes to change the company’s products, services, people and processes for the better.  Whilst Continuous Improvement is related to the constant, daily work practices and staff activities that are relentlessly devoted to removing wasted effort and eliminating defective products, services and processes.

Continuous Improvement through intermittent interruptions for consolidations

Continuous Improvement through intermittent interruptions for consolidations

Continuous Improvement vs. stage wise Continual Improvement

Continuous Improvement vs. stage wise Continual Improvement

Continuous Improvement vs Continuous Change

Continuous Improvement vs. Contnuous Change

The subject of Continual Improvement cannot be done enough justice if we address it in only one post in our Blog Carnival. So, we will continue in next Carnival edition as well…..

We turn to our regular sections now:

Bill Troy, ASQ CEO opens up the debate on Recruiting Members and Volunteers Amid a Changing Landscape.

A quick look at some tips developed by ASQ’s Community Development team:

  • Asking people to attend an association event is an authentic, effective, and simple way to engage potential members.
  • Current association members can refer members and colleagues.
  • Encourage committed members to step up and become association leaders—such as volunteers or chapter officers– explain what’s in it for them.

Julia McIntosh, ASQ communications , in her ‘November Roundup: Engaging Members and Volunteers presents views expressed by ASQ Bloggers on the subject, in terms of – Why join, Lessons learned and Tips for associations.

And then move over to ASQ TV Episode s: Your World, Your Quality, Your Month

November is World Quality Month. In this episode, we take a look at a cost-saving success story from Genpact, a tool to help you prepare for World Quality Month, reacquaint ourselves with the quality gurus, and two contests!

clip_image002[4]Our ASQ’s Influential Voice for the month is – Scott Rutherford

Scott Rutherford works in quality assurance at a nuclear shipyard, and specializes in performance improvement. He blogs at Square Peg Musings.

We do not have a fresh insight this month in so far as Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival category is concerned.

However , in such an event, we do pick up an interesting article posted recently. We pick up Remembering Peter Scholtes for this month. The article contains Peter Scholte’s keynote address @ 2008 annual Deming Institute fall conference in Madison, Wisconsin, two of his seminal books – The Team Handbook and The Leader’s Handbook– and six competencies for leaders.

I look forward to your active participation in enriching the blog carnival as we pursue our journey to continual improvement…………….

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Author: ASHOK M VAISHNAV

In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging! One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems. So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation. At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships. I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator. And yet, The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

3 thoughts on “Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – November 2014”

  1. Ashokji,
    These two words are very interesting, because in theory the difference between the two are well-known, but we tend to use ‘continuous’ in both the senses. Is it that it has been accepted in common usage, and ‘continual’ is going out of use?

    1. The truly professional quality management people use both words for their exact usage.
      The international standards relating management of systems have also been very definitive in their choice of the terms.
      So, ideally, for all technical communications, each of these words will be used as they should be. However, in general parlance, the subtle difference is generally lost in favour of ‘continuous’.
      Short of this jargon, your own poser should really tell the story. – all those who have smallest exposure to current management literature would choose the right term.

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