Information & Training. | TQM. Total Quality Management.

The Process Improvement Team.

Team building in the work place.

When building a Process Improvement Team, there is a need to consider both the “context” in which the team will operate, and the specific roles and structures associated with the team itself.


“Context” of the Process Improvement Team:

First, there is a need to carefully consider the requested task. Is it reasonable, is it important to the organization, will the team be investigating and proposing change that is in alignment with the overall objectives of the organization.

What is the appropriate size of the team to address the task? The larger the team, the greater the variety of skills and competences that will be available, however, leadership and decision making will get more complex as team member numbers increase.

What will be the composition of the team. There needs to be an appropriate skills mix. Clearly there will need to be a team leader, there needs to be individuals will technical skills relevant to the team task. Every team needs members who will be willing to take on tasks. Sufficient numbers of team members will need to be trained and experienced in fact based analytical techniques so that such techniques can be applied during problem investigation, solution identification and implementation. Ideally, a team should have at least one member who will challenge current status. (Note: In planning team membership, Belbin’s team roles and responsibilities may be useful).

What resources and support will the team require? The team will not be able to effectively operate in isolation. It will need support, this may be from more senior members of management whose approval may be needed for proposed change implementation. Technical, financial, etc., resources may be necessary to permit the team investigate and propose change. How will the team obtain the necessary resources and support?

What form of external recognition for team achievements will be in place? This is important, especially to ensure the success of future team efforts and to promote an organizational team culture.

Process Improvement Team

Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
5 why’s analysis
Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
Check sheets /Check Lists
Run charts
Scatter Diagrams/Scatter Plot
Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
Identifying sources & causes of variation
Control/Shewart Charts/DPU Charts
Cpk and Ppk Analysis
Pareto Analysis
Bottleneck Analysis
Etc. Etc.
Information & Training presentation   >>>


When establishing a process improvement team in the workplace there are aspects internal to the team which must be considered:

What will be the leadership style and level. Will the team be seeking consensus or will the team be directed. The approach will depend on the wider organizational culture, the level of co-operation required from team members, the technical skills of the members, the level of urgency associated with the team objectives. Ideally, the leadership style will tend towards consensus, however, complete consensus often results in a sub-optimum result, hence some form of direction is often necessary by the team leader.

In terms of the task what will be the desired level of understanding and buy-in. Some aspects of the team’s work may be technical, will all team members need a full understanding or will the team rely on the advice of individual experts without all team members fully understanding the technical details.

How will the process of maintaining emotions and identifying member needs be addressed. There will be a desire to create an open positive team environment. How will the team leader avoid conflict and steer disagreement into a broadly consensual plan of action.

Mode of interaction. How will the team members interact with each other. For the team to progress, communication and decision making needs to be based around fact based analytical tools and techniques such as fault tree analysis, cause and effect, pareto analysis, histogram analysis, etc.. The team leader needs to promote the appropriate techniques and ensure positive team member interactions are encouraged via the focus on facts versus a focus on opinions and emotions.

Motivation. What will be the motivation for the team members to actively contribute to achieving the team goals. Will the team members receive positive recognition from management and their peers. Are the team objectives aligned with the individual’s objectives? Etc..


Benefits associated with Teams.

Objectives and targets tend to get effectively completed via a team versus an individualistic approach.

Teams facilitate problem solving in a highly effective manner, based on the education, training and experience of the team members.

Teams promote communication and where the team members are appropriately selected, will ensure communication among the relevant individuals and organizational functions.

A well structured and led team will ensure that objectives are clearly agreed and understood.

Teams encourage participation and provide opportunities to input, which may not exist in the individualistic approach. This promotes a higher level of motivation among the team members.

The potential for conflict is reduced in the team structure, versus an alternate individualistic approach to problem solving and change implementation.

Where a team achieves success, the success is shared, which in turn develops a positive achievement culture and positive relationships within the wider organization.

Teams provide a structure and environment where motivation and support can be provided to the team members.

Organizations which have an inherent positive team culture, tend to have higher overall productivity levels.


Team dynamics in the workplace.

Teams offer the opportunity to extract a range of benefits versus individuals when applied to problem solving, process improvement, project implementation, etc..

All teams will share common characteristics, namely:

A common purpose or goals to achieve.

A shared sense of identity both internally and externally.

Offer the team members participation and interaction opportunities.

Will have some semblance of structure, i.e. the leader and members.

Will also have some form of sanction capability in relation to it’s membership.



Equally all process improvement teams have the potential to share common problems.

There may be hidden agendas among the team members.

A group anxiety can exist among team members due to being a “newcomer” or due to conflict between members or due to criticism from within the team or arising from the establishment of the team.

A frequent problems with many teams is the danger of “group-think”. This can arise as often all team members will naturally share common background and experiences, e.g. a process improvement team established within a pharmaceutical processing organization, will frequently only have team members who work in pharmaceutical processing, often some may have worked within the same organization for multiply years, performing similar tasks, etc.. It is hard for such a team to generate truly novel ideas, or to understand the experiences and expectations of external customers.

Personality conflicts can arise in any team. Team selection needs to consider the potential for conflict arising and seek to minimize.

In advance of setting up the team, you need to consider such potential problems and see how they can be avoided, or minimized.


Team development.

When process improvement teams are established they will undergo four stages widely understood as team formation, then a difficult settling in stage called storming, then the team will begin to get into a routing where there is a normalization in how the team functions, finally the team truly begins to perform. These stages are called the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing stages of a team. For each team the duration of a stage will vary. In organizations with a well established effective, positive team culture, the team may progress to the perform stage very rapidly. In other organizations, where teams are not positively viewed, have poor management support, lack resource allocation, a team may fall apart at the storm stage and never progress onto perform.

When a team is established, the performance of the team can often drop after the form stage, as the team moves into the storm stage. With an understanding of team development, this drop in performance should not be seen as a negative, however it is important that support from outside the team is available to help the team leader and team members progress onto the normalization stage.


Potential disadvantages associated with the use of teams.

While teams are broadly seen as providing clear benefits in the workplace when problems need to be solved, processes need to be improved, new products introduced, etc., there are potential disadvantages associated with the use of teams.

Staff chosen to participate in a team must have the appropriate personality, training, education and experience relevant to the team objectives. Not every individual will be suitable to participate in a team. Forcing inappropriate members onto a team will only create conflict and act as a de-motivator.

The organizational culture may be resistive to change, resulting in team ideas and proposed solutions being resisted with consequent loss of time and effort to the individuals and the wider organization.

Teams tend to take longer to reach decisions than decisions taken by an individual. When the need for change is time constrained, there may not be sufficient time for team formation, team analysis, agreement within the team on possible change options, etc.. A competent individual may be able to effect change faster versus the team.

It may be difficult to link rewards to team efforts. Do all team members get equally rewarded, even where some members have a greater role in terms of achieving the team objectives. If some team members only partially participate in the team, but the team achieves its objectives due to the efforts of others, are all equally rewarded? If not, who makes the reward decisions?

Team work can be time consuming and other tasks outside of the team, allocated to team members may not get completed due to the demands of the team. Who determines task priority, the team leader or the team member line manager.

TQM Tools and Techniques Full Details

Quality Improvement Techniques

Information & Training. | Total Quality Management Tools and Techniques …

        • Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
        • Brainstorming
        • 5 why’s analysis
        • Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
        • Check sheets /Check Lists
        • Run charts
        • Histograms
        • Scatter Diagrams/Scatter Plot
        • Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
        • Identifying sources & causes of variation
        • Control/Shewart Charts/DPU Charts
        • Cpk and Ppk Analysis
        • Pareto Analysis
        • Bottleneck Analysis
        • Benchmarking
        • FMEA
        • FTA
        • HAZOP
        • SIPOC
        • Etc. Etc.
        • Information & Training presentation   >>>