There are a lot of fears around continuous improvement (CI) that we, as managers, need to alleviate if we want full engagement from our teams. One of the main fears that I come across is that of people feeling as though their ideas won’t be good enough. Worse than this is the fear of not being able to contribute to the continuous improvement process because they think they are unable to convert their issues into tangible improvement ideas.

The people in your business will see a whole range of issues and opportunities that you just won’t see. Things that are right in front of your face will pass you by, but they won’t for others. I recall once being asked if an oven could be adapted by one of my Production Team Leaders. “What oven?” I asked, curious to know more about this idea. It was standing to my left; I had never paid it any true attention. That one improvement (at a grand cost of $30 and forty five minutes of support from the maintenance department) allowed us to double our curing capacity and remove our major departmental bottleneck! It was right in front of my eyes, but I never saw it…

Some people will naturally engage with CI, some will find it harder. For those who find it harder, the CCC approach is a wonderfully simple method to combat this problem. CCC stands for Concern, Cause, Countermeasure. And it works like this:

  • You list all of your concerns about a particular process, product or challenge that you have in your business.
  • For each concern you then establish what the (root) cause is.
  • For each cause you determine an effective countermeasure, the action you will take to permanently remove the concern.

The beauty of the CCC approach is that it structures your thinking towards a solution, and you can do it in a facilitated group way to create an action plan that is meaningful to everyone who participates. You don’t need to bring solutions to the party, just bring the concerns and let the CCC approach take over. As a team you can convert many issues / concerns into a practical action plan. If you have people on your team who have the fears I mentioned at the start of this article then you can use CCC to help them gain confidence and feel properly engaged with CI.

“Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!” is a cliché heard by most of us at one point or another in our careers. You can understand the frustrations of the person who says it; they have a crushing workload, poor performance that needs to be micro-managed and a team that complains. If you take the last point however, and use the CCC approach you can reverse this list of problems:

  • A team that pro-actively use their complaints (concerns) to generate meaningful actions.
  • A team that delivers the performance that is required because CI is genuinely working for them.
  • A workload that alleviates and becomes manageable.

I’ve been there, and countless others have too. When you engage your team’s minds and skills in a structured way you have the potential for big changes from little effort. CCC is an invaluable way of thinking, as well as a tool.

The StreamLiner software that we have developed uses CCC as one of its primary tools to engage teams in CI. The way that we have built StreamLiner is that you can print a CCC template for use with your team, which can then be inputted into the StreamLiner software, then converted into prioritised actions, and finally managed through to completion.

CCC is only one of the tools to help you capture improvement opportunities and manage change built within StreamLiner, but it is a powerful one.

If you are struggling with the engagement of your team with CI, and believe that they need a little structure to help them convert their thoughts and concerns into proper actions then try out the CCC approach in your business. And, if you want to get serious about managing the CI opportunities in your business, so that you realise the benefits that CI can bring, take a look at our StreamLiner software and see what it can do for you.


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their productivity and on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of What Does Good Look Like? and the co-creator of the StreamLiner business improvement software program.