November 10, 2020 | Mark Paradies

Read This Before Planning Your 2021 Improvements

Improvement Plan Gears

Triple Your Odds of Success

Before you start planning your 2021 Improvement Goals, read this article.

Why? Because you will triple your odds of success. At least that’s what I read in one article.

In another article it said you should:

  1. Develop a plan.
  2. Write it down.
  3. Assign people and due dates.
  4. Share your plan with someone to hold you accountable.
  5. Track your plan and share your accomplishments (or lack thereof) with your accountability partner.

I’ve tried to find the research that proves these techniques work, BUT … the Harvard/Yale study that supposedly proves this isn’t “findable” online. However, I did find an article that claims that the whole “goal research” is an urban legend.

No matter the research (or lack thereof), I think that making a list of goals with the responsible party and the due date and then tracking the goals to completion is a much more successful practice than not having goals and blundering through life.

Your Plan for 2021


This article isn’t about your personal goals. Although, if you would like to:

  • lose weight
  • be more physically fit
  • work on your education
  • develop spiritually
  • work on your relationships

you can use this same approach,

This article IS about improving performance at work. That could be:

  • improving productivity
  • equipment reliability improvement
  • stopping accident and incidents
  • stopping fatalities and lost time injuries
  • quality improvement
  • meeting aggressive schedules

This article will hopefully give you some ideas to make your plan more achievable and effective.

Where to Focus

Before you make a plan, you need to know where you are going to focus your attention.

If you are making improvement goals, what are the most important things to focus on? You don’t want to waste your time on things that have little to no impact.

How do you know what you should be focused on?

First, what are your corporate goals? Do you have any guidance from upper management or the board of directors? If so, this should be in your plan.

Next, what are your statistics telling you? For example, the statistics from your incident investigations.

If you don’t know that much about analyzing incident statistics and trending them, you might try reading Book 8 of the TapRooT® Book series, Performance Measures and Trending for Safety, Quality, and Business Management.

Book 8: TapRooT® Performance Measures and Trending for Safety, Quality, and Business Management

It will explain using Pareto Charts to spot big hitters and specialized charts (Process Behavior Charts) for trending performance over time (are things significantly improving or getting worse over time).

You can use this information to decide the focus of your plan.

What To Do

How will you improve the things you are focused on? Here are several ideas.

First, if you are looking at root cause analysis statistics from your TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Database, you can develop ideas by reviewing the Generic Cause ideas from the TapRooT® Corrective Action Helper® Book.

For an easy one, let’s say that you decided you had a generic problem with labels at your plant. You would look at the Labels NI section of the Corrective Action Helper® Book and refer to the Ideas for Genetic Problems section (shown below).

Corrective Action Helper® Guide Part 2


It provides you with ideas for developing a plan to improve labeling.

In addition, it provides references to review to get even more ideas to improve your facility’s labels.

Next, you might decide to attend training to learn more about the area that you are trying to improve.

For example, if you were trying to improve your incident investigations and root cause analysis, you might attend a course about root cause analysis and incident investigation. For example, the 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training.

Another idea related to training and root cause analysis is to attend the “Grading Investigations for Better Root Cause Analysis” webinar. It’s a great tool for coaching your investigators to perform better root cause analysis. See:


Finally, another way to learn best practices and get improvement ideas is to attend the 2021 Global TapRooT® Summit that is being held in Knoxville, TN, on June 14-18. There are 8 special pre-Summit Courses:

  • TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training
  • Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting and TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis
  • Stopping Human Error
  • Best Practices in Mistake Proofing & Corrective Actions Writing
  • TapRooT® Analyzing and Fixing Safety Culture Issues
  • Risk Management – Best Practices & ROBT Risk & Opportunity Based Thinking
  • TapRooT® Software Implementation & Application
  • TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills

For more information, CLICK HERE.

And the Summit has 7 Best Practice Tracks. They are:

  • Investigation/Root Cause Analysis Best Practices
  • Stopping Human Error Best Practices
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Operational Excellence & Asset Reliability Best Practices
  • Safety & Risk Management Best Practices
  • Becoming a Better Certified Instructor
  • Compliance Best Practices

See the complete 2021 Global TapRooT® Summit schedule at:

The 2021 Summit is a little too late to give you ideas now, BUT it will give you ideas in the middle of 2021 and provide ideas for 2022.

Of course, that’s just three quick ideas to help you develop your plan. Next is actually assigning resources and due dates.

Scheduling Your Plan

Now you need to write down your plan, assign resources, and set due dates for the action items.


This could be as simple as a checklist of action items, responsible people, and due dates. Or you may want to use a scheduling program and assign priorities and resource load the schedule.

Tracking Your Plan

Once you have your plan completed, it is time to get the work done and track the work that’s been completed.

Tracking Your Plan

It’s important to provide updates on the plan and publish the progress so that everyone knows what’s getting done.

In addition, you should show how the action items are impacting performance. That is what you are really trying to accomplish … improved performance.

Your Ideas

Do you have best practices or ideas to make planning improvements easier, faster, or better? Leave them as comments below and help everyone make 2021 a better year!


Implementation, Operational Excellence, Quality
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