Identifying opportunities for improvement, defining them as problems, and pointing out alternatives are essential skills necessary to develop continuous ideas for improvement in the CIP. These skills are not equally well-developed or trained by all employees. There are employees who know every weak point of a production process and regularly criticise existing conditions, yet they are unable to accept the problems as a challenge and solve them. Within the company, they are often regarded as naggers. This is wrong: You have a distinct ability to recognize problems – for example, in a production process. Science calls this creative ability “problem sensitivity”. In CIP, this ability is particularly important in the phase of problem identification and analysis. The alternative would be employees who are not critical of their own company: Existing conditions are accepted as given. Although employees with a low level of problem-sensitivity notice that conferences are too long, bureaucratic obstacles complicate the work, or that more money is spent on certain services than is necessary, they see no opportunity for optimisation. In the continuous improvement process, it is important that employees are assigned according to their abilities. Some are good at criticising, others are good at finding solutions. It is not necessary for an employee to possess both skills.
Ability barriers can be removed by CIP. For example, by means of a newsletter in which practical examples are presented: Which quality problems were identified within a certain team? What solutions have been developed? How was the solution implemented? “We are currently planning an internal bureaucracy TÜV and are trying to simplify work processes. If you have any ideas on how we can all make our work a little easier, I’d be happy.”
It might takes some time initially, until employees are sensitised to discover and formulate opportunities for improvement.