Where to start?

While working with a client a few weeks ago, I pulled out some basic tools from my Continuous Improvement (CI) toolbox to visualize the problems and problem-solving.  While this client had some data, we needed to dive deeper. During our sessions, the client Team realized that we need more than just data. While data does show us the current state and helps point us in the right direction, we need to do more than look at data.  All of the Control Charts, Pareto Charts, Histograms, or bar graphs only show so much.  We must go deeper than the data. We needed to understand where we are genuinely starting.

 Before the virtual “Kaizen” workshops, I completed virtual Gemba Walks with the Team to develop the current state Value Stream Map (VSM) and cross-functional map.  During the Gemba Walks, I built relationships with the Team to learn more about them, what they do, how they felt, and what ideas they may have for improvements. I either spoke to individuals or small Teams about their part of the process.  While these sessions were all virtual, this is something that I do with all my clients either virtually or in person.

Kaizen Events

Once the mapping exercises were done, it was time to bring everyone together to start the virtual “Kaizen” workshops. During the first few sessions, we validated the VSM and cross-functional maps. While going through sessions, things the Team uncovered many problems that we later validated with the data.  During these sessions, I used the

  • 5 Whys
  • Fishbone diagrams
  • Lean Waste
  • Affinity Diagrams

 Without the Team knowing it, they are learning to use the tools effectively.   They were brainstorming and problem-solving in an open environment because they knew they were in a trusted space. They were becoming better problem-solvers.  I also remind the client Teams that they are in a safe space and that titles do not matter.  What truly matters is their voice.  While I want decision-makers to be a part of the workshops to make quick fast decisions, I do not allow the Titles to get in the way. It is not about “I”; it is about “we.”  When looking at processes end-to-end for a product, service, back office, or front office, it is not about one person.  It is about the Team! I

As I move the Team into the following stages, they are starting to see the flow.  They realize that the schedule was built to move them along through the Kaizen Process, but there is also room to be creative, learn, and get to know people better.  Together the Team was developing something better, an environment that would be productive.  It is not all about the bottom line, but employee and customer satisfaction.

Using the right tools

Depending on the situation, I will pull out the right tools from my CI Toolbox to help the Team visualize. Most of the time, the “gut” feelings are correct because we can see them in the data from the start. But there are times that the data does not show everything.  Remember, we use the data to help point us in the right direction, but sometimes you need to dig deeper to get to the “root” cause of the problem. 

While we are moving further into the workshop, the Team starts to brainstorm improvement ideas.  There are so many ways to go about this. Still, sometimes if we cannot get together in a room with sticky notes and markers, I walk the Team through Excel or a board to generate ideas.

If you have all the money in the world…

 My favorite way to start these types of sessions is to say, “Do not worry about time or money!  Imagine you have all the money in the world, how would you solve these problems? No idea is too big or too small.”  After taking away the restrictions, this gets the ideas or juices flowing.  Just about 99% of the time, my client Teams come up with great ideas!  But I only give them so much time to come up with ideas as well.  I use Time Management to keep them on track and to only think about the task at hand.  I also guide them to go deep. During these sessions, they were not there to develop the Improvement Plans, Change Management Plans, or set up a “side” projects just yet. 

After the “time” has run out during these brainstorming improvement sessions, it is time to rank! While there are different ways to categorize improvements (and even root causes) through Affinity Diagrams, things need to be rank to determine the best path forward. While I wanted the Teams to go up with great ideas, you cannot implement everything because it may either too costly or doesn’t have enough impact.  I just wanted to remove the restrictions in their minds to get things the creative juices flowing.

With all my clients, I use a ranking system of all improvements based on the benefits for their customers or clients, cost and effort, and internal benefits to the company.  While we want the customer to be happy, we also need to make sure that there is enough ROI on the improvements and internal benefits.  Who wants to implement something that makes your job harder?  That is not the point of Continuous Improvement.

Which tools should I use?

As you can see, I’ve used many different tools when working with this particular client.  My thought going into each client is that I have all kinds of tools in my toolbox to use for the right situation.  While there are many advanced tools out there in the form of statistics (ex: Minitab or other stat tools), data analytics, or Big Data, I use the right tools for the right situation. The type of tool that should be used depends on the situation, the problem you are trying to solve, the data you might have, and how well you truly know the problem.  

I started to wonder if others thought in the same manner.  A few weeks ago, I decided to ask on Social Media what everyone’s favorite Continuous Improvement tool was.  The responses I received are:


  • Process Mapping
  • Visual Management
  • 5 Whys
  • Relationship Building
  • Gemba – go to Gemba – walk the process
  • Measurement System Analysis
  • Tim Woods – Lean Wastes – Have you seen Tim Woods lately?
  • VSM
  • RACI
  • Fishbone Diagram or Ishikawa or Cause and Effect Diagram
  • 5S
  • Standard Work

Each one of these tools is a part of my toolbox. I pulled them out when the situation is right.  The ones that I do use the most are

  • Gemba and process mapping together to understand the “as is” current state and to show the future state
  • Relationship building to truly get to know my clients and their Teams
  • Value Stream Map to learn the flows and the internal and external customer experience
  • 5 Whys when process mapping to learn and to also get the root causes to the problem
  • Lean Wastes
  • Data Analysis along with Measurement System Analysis after I completed all of the above
  • Fishbone and 5 Whys for further problems solving and creativity with the Teams
  • Standard Work – this is more of an improvement but is a must before any technology
  • Time Management

Keep it simple!

Sometimes, we need the more advanced tools, but you don’t always need to start there.  Always keep things simple at first, and then move on to advance tools depending on the situation.  CI is not always about data analytics and using every tool. Sometimes, it is as simple as the Gemba walk and processing mapping with relationship-building to uncover the business and process problems. After you figure out where the problems are, you can use data to help back up the gut feeling. Of course, if the data is not 100%, it is a starting point that often leads to improvement itself by setting up the right KPIs for the process and product.

The next time you think you need to use a fancy tool, remember it sometimes best to start with the simplest and cheapest tools.  By keeping things simple, you can begin to move faster in the right direction vs. spending too much time on the wrong thing.  It is better to start small and then move into more advanced tools.  It is the power of Continuous Improvement that teaches us that!

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you improve your business, let’s set up some to talk.

“Do not worry about time or money!  Imagine you have all the money in the world, how would you solve these problems? No idea is too big or too small.”  -Lauren Hisey


Continuous Improvement helping your business


As a business owner or leader, you may know what your starting point (Point A) and goals or endpoint (Point B) are, but you do not know how to get there. Many times, you just go without taking the time to set up any type of plan. Since you do not have a plan, you may be feeling a little lost or unsure. You do not know what your next move should be. The feelings of hopelessness begin to creep in. These feelings become even more significant when things happen that are out of your control. You are maybe feeling this right now because of today’s life-changing events.

The economy and businesses are starting to reopen. Do you know what your next move will be? While you want to do what is best for you and your business, you also realize that there it’s more than this. You are trying to figure out how to serve your customers and employees best. In addition, you want to keep yourself and everyone else safe and healthy. But you also need to figure out a way to increase your sales and revenue.

All of the business worries have a new twist to them today. You are still wondering if your plan from the beginning of the year is still relevant or should you just start over. Instead of starting over, now may be a good time to reevaluate your starting point (Point A) and your endpoint and goals (Point B).   You may not need to start over but just adjust your plan. Or maybe it might make sense to start over from scratch. Before you make that decision, there are some things that you can do to help you make the right decision and come up with a plan that works for you.

Within my own business, I develop a CI Plan for myself and my business that is best suited for me. I knew what my point A and Point B were, but I needed to adjust my CI plan for my business. I needed to figure out what was best for myself and my business during these life-changing events. I need to come back to CI and Ikigai. By combining both, I was able to define my why, my passion, and my mission. Once I had these down, it was easy for me to adjust my CI Plan. Instead of feeling hopeless, a CI Plan has helped me to be in control. A CI plan will help you get to your Point B so you can see real progress and feel empowered. With my own CI plan, I’m starting to see results by following the plan each day.

It is like when I set out to start training for half marathon with my husband a few years ago. At this time, never of us have thought about running except for the 10K we completed. We didn’t have a training plan or a nutritional plan. Together we picked out a half marathon we wanted to run. But in true Hisey fashion, my husband and I decided to take it one step further. We decided to complete the Walt Disney World Star Wars Run Challenge of completing a 10K and half marathon in one weekend. While many people might think that is crazy, it is something that my husband and I like to do. We want to take on tough challenges and beat them. So, we set out by setting up a training plan and nutritional plan that would allow us to complete both races without injury. We completed both races and got our medals. But we didn’t stop there, and we decided to run two more Disney half marathons that year to in Disneyland Paris and Disneyland in California. By completing these additional races, we were able to get additional challenge medals. We continuously improved our running and became better with each run.

 Creating a Continuous Improvement Plan


Continuous Improvement Plan

Step 1 – Determine your true point B

Point B is your goal! Take time to visualize where you want to be. Don’t rush this step but also do not get stuck in this step. Research if you need to, but remember, at this point, you just need a good enough understanding of where you want to be. You can always readjust your goal as you get further into your CI plan.  If your goal is significant, you will break down this goal into shorter manageable goals in Step 3. 

Your goal is your measure of success, and no one else’s. You can use other’s as a guide, but create a goal that is best suited for you and your business.


If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.



  1. Long-term running goal: I want to run a Half-Marathon on October 5, 2020.
  2. Long-term business goal:
  • Increase revenue for my company or organization to $50K by December 31, 2020.
  • Increase revenue for my company or organization to $100K by May 31, 2021
  • Increase revenue to $2M for my company or organization by December 2021.

Step 2 – Understand your point A

Before moving forward, you need to understand where you truly stand. Your starting point or point A, and will determine what steps you need to get to your point B.   Your starting point should just be a good understanding of where you are today.  Just think about drawing a line in the sand; this your starting point.


  1. Running – Today, June 1, 2020, I have not run a mile.
  2. Business –
  • I just started my business, and I do not have any previous revenue.
  • Today, I’m only reaching 50 prospective clients every few months with my current marketing and sales plan. Out of these 50 potential clients, I’m only signing one new client every few months. My current marketing and sales plan/process is loosely defined and not repeatable. This is not allowing me to reach my revenue goals.
  • Today, my current organization or business is bringing in $1 M in revenue each year. We are projected to increase our revenue to $2 M next year, but we are unable to meet the demand if we continue down our current path. Our employees are unhappy, and the entire company is always putting out fires. We need to develop a better way to handle the increase in customer demand and ensure our employees are happy.

 Step 3 – Define smaller, manageable goals to help you get to Point B.

To reach point B, you need to set up smaller, manageable goals to get to your bigger goal. By doing this, you will start to see progress a lot faster. As you accomplish each smaller goal, take the time to celebrate the small successes. These small successes empower you to keep going and get to your Point B successfully.



  • Short-term goal 1: Run 1 mile by June 1.
  • Short-term goal 2: Run 5 K by July 13.
  • Short-term goal 3: Run 10K by August 10.
  • Short-term goal 4. Run 9 miles by August 31.
  • Short-term goal 5. Run 13 miles by September 28.

Business: Increasing revenue (these numbers can be adjusted to your revenue goals for your business or organization)

  • Short term goal 1: Increase revenue to $20K by September 31, 2020
  • Short term goal 2: Increase revenue to $50K by December 31, 2020
  • Short term goal 3: Increase revenue to $75K by February 28, 2021

Business: Increasing the number of clients (by increasing the number of clients, you should be able to increase your revenue numbers.)

  • Short term goal 1: Add 3 clients to my business by September 31, 2020
  • Short term goal 2: Add 4 clients to my business by December 31, 2020
  • Short term goal 3: Add 6 clients to my business by February 28, 2021
  • Short term goal 4: Add 8 clients to my business by May 31, 2021

Step 4 – Plan to reach your goals

Set up a plan that you can follow each day and week to meet your goals. You will need to brainstorm what steps you are going to take each day. There is not one set plan for everyone or business. The plan should be unique to your business. Remember that each step is essential and not to skip steps to try to get ahead too fast. You need to put in the work each day, week, and year to get to your goals. Overnight successes do not happen. Success happens by doing the work each day to get to your goals.

For running this, it would be where you would set up the running and nutrition plan to get you to your goal. You could use a Couch to Half Marathon plans to get you there. But do the program that is right for you.

For a business, this is where you set up your business plan. You will set up the processes, marketing and sales plan, content strategy, etc. to get more clients or to reach your revenue goals. The plans to get where you need to go will be unique to your business or organization.

Step 5 – Carry your plan out. Just start!

You need to start toward your goal. Often business leaders and owners plan and plan, but they just don’t get started. Do not waste time; just get started! Even if a step does not work, you are still taking a step forward because you are learning. You just need to take one Step a time: one run at a time, one meal at a time, one step of the business plan at a time. 

Step 6 – Check to see if everything is ok at the target dates that you defined in Step 3.

Complete this step on a weekly and monthly basis. You will check to see if you are on your way or if something did not work right. If everything is going well with your plan, then full speed ahead. If things are not going well, readjust your plan and maybe even your goal. 


Running – Are you meeting your running goals?

  1. Yes, keep on going with your running and nutrition plan
  2. No, what happened? Did you get injured or you do not have enough energy?
  • Plan for a rest
  • Readjust your plan
  • Make sure you are getting the right amount of nutrition

Business – Are the steps you are taking getting you toward your goal?

  1. Yes, keep on going with your business plan
  2. No, figure out what is not working.
  • Experiment until you are on the right track.
  • Just make sure you are giving things the right amount of time to see results.
  • Do not change too fast!

Step 7 – Keeping doing each step until you reach point B

CI is a daily, weekly, yearly action that you do for improvement. CI is a continuous cycle until you reach point B. Little by little, you will reach your business and personal goals.

Step 8 – Success!! You have reached your Point B!

Celebrate your success!! Do not skip celebrating! You took one step, one day at a time to reach your goal. By celebrating, you are empowering yourself to see how far you have come. 

Take this time to relax and enjoy your success! 

Do not skip this. 

Let things settle and then move onto Step 8.

Step 8 – Set up a new CI plan for your next goal

Remember, step 6, where CI is a daily, weekly, yearly action? The beautiful thing about CI is that you can always have a CI plan to keep on getting better. Don’t stay in the comfortable zone! Get out there and achieve all of the success you want to do!


Just like I did with my business and running, I will share with you what you how you can continuously improve your business. You can start doing things today and work toward your point B. Now is the perfect time to figure out your CI Plan so you can begin to see real progress regardless of what is going on around us.

 Do you think you can use this CI plan? What are some things that can do today to get from your point A to point B?

If you would like to talk about setting up your CI Plan, let’s set up some time to chat.

Do not waste time; just get started!” – Lauren Hisey



Business Goal

Why your business goals will fail!

Do you have an idea of what your business goal is (Point B)?

Do you have a starting point (Point A)?

Are you unsure how to get from Pont A to Point B?

Does the journey seem scary to you?

These are often the questions a business leader or owner asks themselves. As the business leader or owner, you usually do not understand what is holding you back and what is getting in your way to reach your business goals. You become scared and full of emotions because you think you need to be further along. You are thinking this because it feels like everyone around you is succeeding faster than you. You are in the same place or moving backward. But what if I told you that moving from Point to Point B is hard, and there Six Causes that are keeping you from moving forward. You may not be able to see these causes even if they are right in front of you.  Sometimes these causes are intangible, and we may or may not be able to quantify them.

Let’s dive into the causes!

1. Perfectionism!

Perfectionism is a “personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”

Often you are comparing yourself to others, especially if they seem to have everything together.  It feels like they are way ahead of you, and you can’t even figure out your next step or where to start.  What if I told you that everything in business is not perfect and everyone else feels just like you? Perfectionism keeps us from seeing where people are on their journey. You cannot compare your beginning to someone’s middle or end. Everyone is on a journey, and we are all in different stages.


Instead of hating your journey, you should embrace it. The journey is not always about the reward or the destination. My friend Karyn Ross always reminds me that “How we get there is as (or more important) than where we are going!” Enjoy and embrace the journey because you will have more fun if you do. The results will come if you enjoy what you are doing and put in the work.

2. Chaos!

Often, you will choose chaos or disorder because we do not know any better. You get stuck in the chaos because you don’t know how to get out of it. It is causing you to lose sight of what matters the most and how to get to your goals. All of the chaos you are creating is not serving your customers. It is driving them away because you have become reactive instead of proactive. The focus should not be on making more money for yourself or your business but on how you make your customers happy. By stopping the chaos and listening to our customers’ wants, we learn how to make them happy. Satisfied customers usually mean you are meeting your customer needs, which in turn makes your business money.


3. No Plan! 

You might say you have a plan, but you genuinely do not have a plan or not an efficient plan. Instead, you are all over the place within your business. You start to feel confused and overwhelmed. When you are hit with a crisis (just like COVID-19), you are reactive. Without a plan, you are not efficient, and you are not rapid enough to respond. Instead, you are stuck in chaos and not seeing any progress. You are trying a whole lot of different things at once instead of taking it one step at a time. You need to have a well thought out  Continuous Improvement plans not just for improvements but for times like we are experiencing right now. These plans allow you to combat the feelings of being overwhelmed and confused. Having a plan will enable you to move out of a place of stagnation and into a place with great opportunities to improve and move forward. You can start to climb the mountain again to success and prosperity because things are planned out.

4. Complexity! 

You are making things harder than they need to be. You are trying all of the new “flashy” things (technology, AI, etc.) only to see that they are not working. By adding complexity to any business situation, you are making things worse.  What if I told you that you do not always need all the tools, technology, and gadgets to be successful. Sometimes all you need to do is start with simple processes that work for you. You do not always need to add complexity to your business to become efficient and successful.

5. Not truly understanding your purpose and goals! 

Do you genuinely understand why you are in business? What do you want to achieve? What do your customers honestly want? The answers to these questions help to define the success of your business.   If you are not able to answer these questions, you may be feeling like you honestly do not know what you are doing. Not having a real purpose and goal with your business will keep you in this state of confusion and will not allow you to develop a concrete plan that fits you and your business. Not knowing what the real purpose is keeping you from truly from authenticity. By genuinely thinking about your goal, it will help you to make sure your Point B is accurate.  

6. Not starting!

 Have you thought about starting a new plan, but you are afraid to? You begin to think about what if you fail or if you take the wrong steps. Instead of thinking about failure, think about how succeeding. You will not fail or take the wrong steps. A step is either going to work or not work. If the step works, you are closer to your goal. If the step did not work, you are still closer to your goal. You are closer to your goal because you started taking steps instead of just waiting. You are much closer to your Point B once you start! 

Where you able to relate to these reasons? Are you ready to see why you are having such a hard time moving from Point A to Point B? You may not experience all of these reasons, but if you are just experiencing one of them, it’s keeping you from moving forward. If you can just eliminate one of these reasons, this will help you to start moving forward. You will get to your Point B so much faster. I have faith that you can move forward and reach your Point B. 


What is keeping you from moving forward?


If you would like to learn more about these six reasons, let’s set up a time chat.


How we get there is as (or more important) than where we are going! – Karyn Ross