Sustainable Improvement Model image

Sustainable Improvement Model

There is a lot of advice on what to do to sustain improvement out there. Most of it is good advice, and it may well have worked for other people – but which of it applies to your specific factory?

If you try to do everything at once, you’ll be a long time at it, – if you are lucky enough to be given the time. This is why understanding your current situation, and understanding what is critical for you is key.

In almost every business we have visited (and that’s quite a few!) the teams are working hard at turning some elements of management process that they are already effective at, into something that is best practice. At the same time, they are living with key sustainability elements which are entirely ineffective – indeed the organisation often doesn’t even recognise it is missing.

Whilst it’s exciting to talk about best practice, and show off what you excel at – the mundane truth is that great improvement comes from being effective at everything, and spending more time worrying about leaving anything out there as ineffective, rather than reaching for highly localised excellence. In sport, we often talk about “doing the basics well”, and the same is true for factory performance improvement. Only once the foundations are strong, can we go on to choose which areas to excel in.


The Sustainable Improvement Model (SIM) measures exactly this.

There are three key elements of change (Time, Ability, and Inclination) which have been applied to factory performance. In business:

  1. Time is equivalent to resource,
  2. Ability means having the Know How and the Know-What, and
  3. Inclination is set by Leadership & Strategy and through Management Processes.

This means there are 5 pillars which are required to ensure sustained improvement, and under each one are a set of tools, systems or processes.

Through our experience of running guaranteed performance programmes over the past 15 years, we have been able to determine the criticality levels of each of the various sustainability elements. You can use this model to both determine where you are on the scale, identify what are the most important elements to work on, and see at a glance what actions you need to take to move those elements to effective and beyond.



It’s brilliant! We used to produce 3 or 4 full bins of waste a day now we’re down to less than ½ a bin! The final bit of work we do should reduce it to virtually nothing!

Operator – Branded Bakery

A key learning for me was that delegation is as much about the development of others as it is removing an action from my list. I now think of delegation as an opportunity for my team to develop and try new things. The more I do it, the more effective it is. Delegation is now one of my key management tools.

Front Line Manager on Aspire Programme