A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement

10 Steps to Lower Cost and Operational Excellence

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A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement

A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement

Phillip Slater


Also click the Resources tab, above, to read the back cover description



Developed from the author’s own practical experience, this unique resource details a proven, 10-step approach to cost reduction, and provides a series of tools to help you achieve sustainable cost reduction in your business while avoiding the damage of “slash and burn”. A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement presents a new ‘Operations Improvement Cycle’. This cycle provides the benchmark, priority and guidance that were missing in the original cycle. This is achieved through a three stage process involving 10 specific steps. Additionally, it explores the issues with the traditional approach to continuous improvement and cost reduction and then takes you through the three stages and the '10 Steps’ in detail. Working with this manual will change your approach to cost reduction forever. Not only will you save money on an ongoing basis, but these proven techniques will have an impact almost immediately!



  • Explains the steps to lower cost reduction, how to apply them, and in what order.
  • Includes 47 specific 'must do' actions for success.
  • Details the 42 common mistakes people make.
  • Discusses how implementation is a process, not just an entry on a Gantt chart.
  • Contains 24 templates to help guide you through the entire process.
  • Provides 20 case studies that can be applied to any business.

A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement

by Phillip Slater

Phillip Slater

Phillip Slater has more than 22 years of business improvement experience.

While the last 12 of these have been spent in operations and management consulting, the first 10 were spent ‘hands on’ in industry learning by direct experience. It was during this time, and by learning from both his successes and failures, that Phillip developed many of the approaches that his company, Initiate Action, applies today.

Based on his experience, Phillip has authored a number of management books including A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement and Smart Inventory Solutions. Over the course of his career Phillip has worked in at least a dozen countries and across most industries. He presents training courses for APICS, is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and The National Speaker’s Association of Australia. Selected operational improvement achievements include:

  • As a manager, taking an underperforming manufacturer to be the profit leader in its group of companies
  • Assisting a client to achieve more than 20% in operational cost reduction
  • Assisting other clients to achieve tens of millions of dollars of operational improvements
  • Assisting a client to achieve a 42% reduction in inventory
  • Assisting other clients to release millions of dollars in cash from excess inventory


For the past five years Phillip has donated his time as a Non Executive Director for Yooralla, one of Australia’s leading disability service providers.In addition to his operations improvement consulting work, Phillip is also available for corporate speaking and training.

A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement

by Phillip Slater

Part 1: Getting the Most Out of This Manual

Management’s role is to change the way a business is managed, not manage it day to day.

Seeking the lowest effective operating cost does not mean seeking to compete solely on cost alone, nor is it limited to those operating in commodity markets. The 10 Steps are aimed at any business that wants to improve its margins, from small operations to multinationals. Whether the business sells high-quality, high-priced goods and services, is in banking or insurance, or competes in a highly cost competitive market, there is one common goal—profit. The 10 Steps aim to maximize profit by working on cost and improving margins.

Simply, the 10 Steps gives every business a number of tools and a framework to achieve its lowest effective cost. The lowest effective cost is the lowest cost base that enables a business to fulfil its market, social, and business needs within its economic environment. It is not low cost no matter what. (This is more likely to be a scorched earth approach.) The lowest effective cost is achieved by applying the framework and tools to change both how the business is managed and what is managed within the business. If management’s role is to change the way a business is managed, then it is only by changing how you manage or what you manage that improvements can be made.

Changing how you manage requires a focus on actions and how they are executed. This includes addressing influencers of action such as policies, procedures, culture, and discipline.


To change what you manage, the focus must be on financial, physical, and human assets. To gain the greatest benefit, the 10 Steps should be applied through the lens of changing both how and what you manage.

Part 1 of this manual (where you are now) discusses the issues and hurdles around achieving success through operations improvement. This section introduces the New Operations Improvement Cycle and the concepts of the 10 Steps for Lower Costs and Operational Excellence.

Part 2 of this manual is set out to enable the reader to work through each of the 10 Steps individually. The greatest benefit will be gained by spending time thinking about the application of a particular step immediately after reading the section that discusses it. To assist in capturing these top-of-mind thoughts, immediately after the discussion of each step there are pages for notes and some prompts to help you review the application of that step in your workplace. Please maximize your benefit from this manual by taking the time to think about the issues and your situation, and then make notes as soon as possible.

Part 3 focuses on planning and implementation. In this section, you can consolidate your thoughts from your previous notes and determine your priorities for taking action. To further help get the most out of this manual, it is suggested that you apply the following reading/review approach. This approach is often used for research and study and is an effective way to increase understanding and recall.

1) Before reading any section, preview it by simply looking through the pages and noting the content, headings, footnotes, diagrams etc. Understand what you are going to read. This is like reviewing a road map before undertaking a trip.

2) Read the section once without stopping and without making any notes. This will help you understand the entire picture.

3) Re-read the section, making notes or underlining statements of interest. Now that you know the entire picture, you are better able to pick the key points of interest to you. Of course you do not have to use this approach. If you have another method that suits you better, then by all means, follow that method.

A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement: 10 Steps to Lower Costs and Operational Excellence


by Phillip Slater

From the Back Cover


Finally... a text that clearly shows how to actually achieve cost reduction and continuous improvement - step by step!


In A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement: 10 Steps to Lower Costs and Operational Excellence, Phillip Slater presents, step-by-step, a new Operations Improvement Cycle that provides the benchmark, priority, and guidance which many see as missing in the old “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle. This is achieved through an easy-to-follow three-stage process involving 10 specific steps.


Using real life examples and case studies, this volume not only explains the 10 Steps approach but also demonstrates how and why the approach is an improvement on past practices. Worksheets and templates are included to help guide the reader through the entire process.


Because it is based on real life experience, A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement contains practical content that you can use immediately. It is perfect for: automotive OEMs and suppliers; utilities suppliers; airlines; steel industry; oil refineries; aluminum smelters; process industries; manufacturing; mining; service industries; and corporate management. Actually, A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement: 10 Steps to Lower Costs and Operational Excellence can be applied to any business.


From this book you will learn:

•         The 10 steps to a Lower Cost Business

•         How to apply the 10 steps and in which order

•         How they fit within a continuous improvement cycle

•         47 specific 'must do' actions for success

•         42 mistakes that people make

•         That implementation is a process not just an entry on a Gantt chart

•         From real life examples (there are 20 case studies) exactly how to apply each step in the real world


By following the 10 Steps process, readers will achieve significant and ongoing business improvement and cost reduction. And the good news is that applying this process doesn't take more time. It just becomes a natural part of the way you do business!

A New Strategy for Continuous Improvement

by Phillip Slater



Part 1: Achieving Success Through Continuous Improvement 1

Introduction 3

Getting the Most Out of This Manual 7

The Importance of Cash Flow 11

Identifying and Measuring Benefits 15

8 Reasons Why Operations Improvement Efforts Fail 17

The New Operations Improvement Cycle 21

Part 2: The 10 Steps to Lower Costs and Operational Excellence 31

Step #1: Get Organized 33

Step #2: Apply the Fundamentals With Rigor 43


Step #3: Focus on Function, Not Cost 51

Step #4: Identify and Focus on the Leverage Points 59

Step #5: Limit and Prioritize Resources 67

Step #6: Work on the 1%ers 75

Step #7: Eliminate Duplication 83

Step #8: Question Everything 91

Step #9: Take Some Chances 99

Step #10: Ignore Tradition 107

The Complete Picture 115

Part 3: Planning and Implementation 117

Action Planning 119

Implementation 123

Appendix A: Example – The 10 Steps and Minimizing Inventory 131

Appendix B: Glossary 133

Appendix C: About Initiate Action 145