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Organizational Excellence


Excellence is powered by improvement. Here are practical resources for taking action.

Types of available imprpovement resources

Click below for tips, tools, and more:

To have a process mindset means to think beyond our own individual jobs – and to see how our work connects with the work of others to deliver something of value to the people we serve. With process improvement, we look at the interconnected activities to see what adds value, what causes confusion and delays, and what can be done to make the process simpler and better for everyone. 

Video: Steve Jobs on the Power of Improvement [video]Steve Jobs on the power of improvement [video] (1:31 min.)

Apple founder Steve Jobs always knew that excellence is powered by improvement. In this interview from many years ago, a young Jobs explains how questioning and improving business processes represents a significant shift for the better.

Video: What is a business process? Video of Steve Jobs on the power of improvement[video] (2:15 min.)

Although this video uses the word “business” to refer to an organization, the information is universally relevant, and the description of “business process” is crystal clear. As the narrator notes, “It’s a simple concept, but it’s a pretty important one, because how well we do them (processes), how long they take, and how accurate they are has a big impact on the output of the organization and thus its success.”

Fill-save template: SIPOC [pdf]SIPOC fill-save pdf template

The simple SIPOC diagram (pronounced SIGH-pok) is a perfect starting place for looking at a current process or developing ideas for a new one. "SIPOC" stands for suppliers, inputs, high-level process steps, outputs, and customers. All of these are captured in the template, making it a great tool for individuals and teams who want to make sense of complicated or undocumented processes.

Video: The Importance of Making Processes Visible [video]Video of Steve Jobs on the power of improvement (3:00 min.)

Process improvement is challenging because processes are largely invisible. Learn what this means, why it's such a challenge, and why it's crucial to make processes visible – so we can understand what's happening and how we can bring about improvement. A shared understanding of the processes we work in is key

Video: Process Mapping [video]Video of Steve Jobs on the power of improvement (4:43 min.)

Creating a start-to-finish map of a process is an essential early step toward improvement. Get the basics in this quick video.

Online mapping tool: Diagrams.netVideo of Steve Jobs on the power of improvement

Use this free application to create process maps, flowcharts, org charts, Venn diagrams, and much more. It's secure and very easy to use. You can use the online version, or download and use the offline version. To confirm:, along with its cloud storage plugins and offline versions, is entirely free of charge. 

Video: The Video of Steve Jobs on the power of improvementPitfalls Of Process Mapping – And How To Avoid Them [video]  (2:56 min.)

Be alert to the pitfalls of process mapping – such as jumping to solutions, not involving people who work in the various key steps in the process, and more.

Tip Sheet: MEBUWOOD Process Waste [pdf]SIPOC fill-save pdf template

MEBUWOOD is a memory-jogging acronym for the eight types of waste that can afflict a process. Knowing, understanding, and seeking out these inefficiencies is a key to process improvement. You might be familiar with the more common TIMUWOOD. It too is an acronym-labeled list of different forms of process waste, with origins in manufacturing. MEBUWOOD is based on the TIM version, but it’s tailored to fit the service-oriented processes we have at USC.

Tip Sheet: Key Measures for Process Improvement [pdf]SIPOC fill-save pdf template

This 1-pager defines a full range of measures, all explained in plain language. Use any of these to get a deeper understanding of how your process is performing – and to set quantitative goals for improvement.

Video: Make Voice Of Customer input More Useful [video]Video of Steve Jobs on the power of improvement (6:36 min.)

When we hear from customers on what's important to them when it comes to our processes and service, we often get qualitative input that can be general and difficult to measure. To use this input to power improvement, we need to translate it into specific characteristics that can be measured. That's the idea behind CTQ, which stands for Critical To Quality. CTQs are key measurable characteristics whose performance standards must be met in order to satisfy the customer. This video explains CTQs and its four sections, and walks through an example that we can all relate to: a restaurant.

Article:  When Subtraction Adds ValueArticle
Harvard Business Review (1,200 words)

People systematically overlook subtractive changes to bring about improvement – and instead, they follow their instincts to add. There is nothing inherently wrong with adding. But if it becomes the default path to improvement, you might be missing significant opportunities.
– By Gabrielle Adams, Benjamin A. Converse, Andrew Hales, and Leidy Klotz – February 04, 2022

Tip Sheet: High-Potential Improvements [pdf]SIPOC fill-save pdf template

For teams that are working to transform key processes, certain types of improvements come up time and again as the biggest drivers of significant positive change. This reference sheet lists the top 14. It’s based on a review of 100 process improvement projects to determine the key changes that had the biggest impact in making processes more efficient, effective, and user-friendly.

Article: A Practical Approach to Process Improvement [pdf]Article

Some of these suggestions are super simple, and they all can have a positive impact.

Development of a project charter is the first and best opportunity to set up an improvement project for success – and these fill-save templates make the chartering process a lot easier.

Fill-save template:
Process Improvement Project Charter [pdf]SIPOC fill-save pdf template

Use this charter to plan and communicate key elements of a process improvement project.  

Fill-save template:
Resource Optimization Project Charter [pdf]SIPOC fill-save pdf template

Use this charter to plan out a resource optimization project


Video: City of Stow, Ohio [video]Video of Steve Jobs on the power of improvement (10:08 min.)

Learn from the source as participants talk through a major improvement project. They transformed their inspection process, and though you don't work in inspections, they have transferable lessons for all of us who are working to improve our own processes.

Video: Introduction to A3 Thinking [video] (10:33 min.)Video of Steve Jobs on the power of improvement

A3 problem solving is a structured approach for solving a well-defined workplace problem. The "A3" name is based on the paper size that was originally used to document all the problem-solving steps on one large page. You can use whatever size paper you want. What's important are the steps that are key to this tool's effectiveness. This video (from Stanford University's Medical School) provides a practical overview. See directly below for ready-to-use templates.

Fill-save templates:SIPOC fill-save pdf template

A3 Problem Solving - portrait format [pdf]

A3 Problem Solving - landscape format [pdf]


Organizational Excellence

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.