Identify & Prioritize Continuous Improvement Initiatives


Whether your organization follows Lean Six Sigma, continuous improvement, or agile practices, identification and prioritization of improvement initiatives is a critical first step when undertaking a new project. Doing so helps organizations recognize improvement opportunities and strategically prioritize them.

This model follows four steps:

1) Identify improvement initiatives.
2) Rate the initiatives based on impact and ease of implementation.
3) Prioritize by allocating priority points to each initiative.
4) Create an action plan to implement the highly prioritized initiatives.


This decision model can be used by business directors, business leaders, Lean Six Sigma managers, continuous improvement managers, project managers, and operations managers.


“To stay competitive, companies need to find ways to do things better, faster and cheaper. This is the basis for any continuous improvement program. Using resources wisely is critical. Companies should focus on the highest-priority initiatives” (Chaneski, 2010).

“68% of organizations have no process in place to help them prioritize their initiatives” (Stanleigh, 2016), and many organizations at a strategic and operational level don't follow correct prioritization methods (Rodriguez, 2016). This lack of processes is a contributing factor in why many new initiatives fail. Completing a structured identification and prioritization process helps organizations recognize highly prioritized improvement initiatives.


1) NOODLE & TAG: Identify improvement initiatives for your organization, and tag by category and planning horizon.

2) COMBINE to eliminate duplicates and move forward with only unique ideas.

3) MULTI-CRITERIA RATE each initiative based on impact and ease of implementation. In the comments section, provide rationale for why each initiative was rated the way it was.

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 4) SHARE AND DISCUSS RESULTS: Review stakeholder alignment and display a heat map graph to participants.

Multi-Criteria Rate.png

5) PRIORITIZE the initiatives by allocating priority points as you see appropriate. 

6) ACTION PLAN: Develop a specific action plan to implement highly prioritized initiatives.


  • List of improvement initiatives based on planning horizon.
  • Prioritized list of initiatives that can be revisited during each cycle.
  • Specific action plan to implement highly prioritized initiatives.


This exercise will enable:

Quality  Gain critical insight into your organization’s improvement initiatives, so they be effectively implemented.

Efficiency – Make the most of your business leaders’ time by quickly prioritizing improvement initiatives.

Engagement – Engage a wide range of business leaders to ignite deep discussion around needed improvement initiatives, and gain confidence knowing they have been prioritized appropriately.

Agility  Quickly create a list of high priority improvement initiatives so your team can effectively respond to organizational and market changes.


Chaneski, W. (2010). Effectively prioritizing and managing your projects. Modern Machine Shop.

Nieto-Rodriguez, A. (2016). EHow to Prioritize Your Company’s Projects. Harvard Business Review.

Stanleigh, M. (2016). How to develop a systematic approach to prioritizing all projects. Business Improvement Architects.