Continuous improvement is a process, so it has steps and activities. And roles and responsibilities. And it has performance indicators.

Using the performance indicators like takt time and cycle time you can set up a very useful diagram, often used in Agile, the so called cumulative flow diagram as described here

For example

  • your team consist of 20 members; submitting 26 improvement suggestion per year. So every 2 weeks 1 improvement suggestion. That means the takt time is 2 weeks
  • let’s assume they are all selected and successful realized (i.e. implemented)
  • if the average time it takes to realize an improvement is 3 weeks (cycle time is 3 weeks) there will be a backlog. if less or equal than 2 weeks there will be no backlog. In Lean the term backlog is called WIP (Work in progress).


These performance indicators can be used to set-up the cumulative flow diagram as shown in this picture. Setting up this diagram is a good. The use of this diagram we will explain in the rest of this post.

Kaizen cumulative flow diagram
Continuous improvement cumulative flow diagram

Cumulative flow diagram and continuous improvement

What happens when your capacity to realize improvement suggestions is not sufficient to realize an improvement in 2 weeks. WIP will increase and this will be visible in your cumulative flow diagram. Or when someone in your team is leaving and a new teammember is lacking crucial skills?

Or when the takt time is not 2 weeks but 1 week (i.e. every week a new improvement suggestion is submitted (because of changes in customer demands, legislation or competition).


Innovation comes from the producer – not from the customer. W. Edwards Deming



Post isn’t finished yet; this is a draft which will be completed by 18-12-2017


example cumulative flow diagram in Excel

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