identifying countermeasures in process improvement

Part 1: How to Identify Countermeasures: Defining Countermeasures and How They Work

Process can and should be strengthened by all organizations at all stages of growth. With process, you need different solutions and face different challenges. The process to get you from one stage to the next is the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle and continuous improvement through process releases, like what is done in software development. 

In our previous blogs, we covered problem identification and prioritization. In this blog series, I’m going to discuss the fourth step of the PDCA process—identifying countermeasures. This step is crucial to making sure your process improvement initiative achieves long-term results.

Identifying Countermeasures

When you get to the fourth step of the PDCA process, you have already understood the current state of your operations through the Goods and Information flow; you have named problems across the flow and prioritized them. From the prioritization, you’ve scoped your first version. 

Let’s consider a company tackling ten problems within 30 days, which is a significant improvement. Now the focus shifts to identifying countermeasures. The identification of countermeasures is a separate step from their development. Initially, you simply name the countermeasures, and then the 30-day lead time begins when we go and make them.  

Whatever changes you intend to make should come after the countermeasures have been identified.

The reason we break these steps apart is that in solving problems, we tend to confuse all the steps. Sometimes, we tend to combine all these conversations about what the problem is, how big it is, and why it’s happening, and then start creating answers or developing countermeasures. When we combine all the steps like that, we don’t actually ever move forward on one of them. 

In the PDCA process, we compartmentalize the steps so we know they’re done, complete, and whole, rather than partially complete.

Let’s say you have prioritized ten problems in your go-live. You pull the problems over into a new tab of the worksheet called the Key Operational Change Worksheet (downloadable here for free). This is where we keep tabs on how we identify countermeasures. 

The main point in identifying countermeasures is that the countermeasure is not just the answer. It’s how you’re going to fix the problem with the answer. It’s a little bit more project management than an answer. 

When it comes to identifying countermeasures, what matters even more than the idea itself is how you’re going to execute it. This can be further understood when you learn the three most important components of a countermeasure. 

Tune in next week for the continuation of this blog series. I’ll be introducing the first two of the three most important components of a countermeasure—the key operational change and supporting tools. 


In your service,

Hilary Corna

Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


Leave a Reply

I am starting a revolution. One business and one person at a time.



When was the last time your inbox inspired you? Sign up today!

Thank you for subscribing!