The window of opportunity for significant improvement does not remain open very long. Soon we become too busy, or too slow, or reorganize – and the window closes. While the window of opportunity is open however, it is imperative that we complete important changes quickly. But, to change quickly we need an efficient methodology for change. 

Over the years, Bill Sandras has observed a tendency for people to latch on to one change methodology, even a good one, and try to use it for every situation (e.g., quality circles, statistical quality control, kaizen events, Six Sigma workouts). Unfortunately, no one methodology works for all situations. As Abraham Maslow said, “To the man that has only a hammer in the tool kit, every problem looks like a nail.” 

Therefore, Bill developed four Rapid Breakthrough Events (RBE) -- a practical set of change methodologies that you can quickly employ to address most situations. These RBE’s are the result of over 30 years of experience helping manufacturing, administrative, and service organizations successfully convert their visions into reality.

Notice the small bear and lion in the lower corners of the above graphic. Have you ever seen a person carving a bear out of a log? Using a chain saw they can quickly carve out the waste to leave a rough but appealing image of a bear. Starting with a smaller piece of wood and fine carving tools, others can carve cougars and ducks out of wood with such detail that you can see each individual hair and feather. The chain saw is not better than the fine carving knife – they just have different purposes. Once the bear is roughed out, if the artist wanted to, he/she could shift to fine carving tools to bring out more detail. 

In carving, and in business, we need to make sure we use the best tools for the job at hand, and the four RBE’s are designed to provide us with a choice. The Alignment and Value Stream RBE’s are designed to make major changes across broad areas. They follow the chain saw art approach by quickly carving out large amounts of waste to reveal the new image. The Process and Data RBE’s are designed to focus on detailed improvements in targeted spots. They are the fine- carving tools. All RBE’s make important changes, the difference is in the scope.

All RBE’s also address waste, a central concept to the Lean philosophy. The figure below shows ten fundamental wastes – the first seven are from the historical Japanese writings, and the last three were added by Bill Sandras.

1. The Alignment RBE taps the knowledge and intuition of experts to discover approaches to complex and non-quantifiable issues frequently faced by managers. It helps create an understanding and consensus on how to align local initiatives to corporate strategies (e.g., supporting the Balanced Scorecard process). And, it is particularly valuable for translating difficult initiatives into actionable and measurable steps. The Alignment RBE uses a rigorous set of techniques that employ different thinking styles to stimulate creativity and help you discover new insights. These tools yield a collective understanding of the situation that other techniques are not capable of providing. (Some will recognize the New Management and Planning tools and Policy Deployment as part of this methodology.)

2. The Value Stream RBE will help you significantly improve your ability to respond to customer needs across entire product lines or business processes – while improving quality, delivery, and cost. It attacks the major sources of waste to quickly improve the bottom line. This broad-scope technique is effective for creating new processes or for improving existing ones. And once changes are made, the Value Stream RBE will help you sustain them by establishing the necessary culture of continuous improvement at all levels of the organization. In addition, it helps to orchestrate the application of the other RBE's that follow. (Some prefer to use the Japanese term “kaikau” for this major change event.)

3. The Process RBE is a short, intense event focused on a specific operation, or process step(s). Use it to eliminate waste, balance activities, minimize people movements, and streamline process flows. This technique applies whether the work is done to parts, on transactions, or to serve people. (Some prefer to use the Japanese term “kaizen” for this point improvement event.)

4. The Data RBE uses the core Six Sigma / Total Quality Control tools in conjunction with Problem Solving Storyboards. Its purpose is to help teams to analyze a problem to uncover and correct the root cause of process variations. This technique applies to virtually any problem where the number of occurrences of an undesirable event can be quantified. (Some call these Six Sigma workouts or problem solving teams.)

In addition, the Rapid Breakthrough Events utilize the “One less at a time©” process. This visual process serves as a systemic driver of continuous improvement behavior. It highlights and prioritizes opportunities for improvement, energizes people to communicate and make the necessary changes, and provides visual feedback on progress. 

Concurrent analysis, design, and implementation are integral components to the speed and effectiveness of the RBE's. This enables organizations to dramatically accelerate their rate of change to a major new vision -- safely, economically, and measurably. And while this description outlines four RBE variations, in reality one Rapid Breakthrough Event can combine elements from any of the four depending on your need.

These events can be facilitated in any language with a translator. 

Productivity Centers International and Bill Sandras will help you create a professionally trained work force that is certified in using the Rapid Breakthrough Events to meet tomorrow’s opportunities for higher customer and employee satisfaction and increased profits.



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