Great work systems drive operational excellence

Hi! I’m Kevin McManus. Welcome to the Great Systems best practice work systems website. As sole proprietor of Great Systems, my personal goal is to make work a much better place. For this to occur, continuous improvement needs to be a daily work habit. Since great work systems drive operational excellence, this site gives work team leaders proven best practice tools, blueprints, workflows, and models to help make that possible.

Over 20 years ago, I started Great Systems with one goal. That goal was to make work fair, fun, and focused. We should spend our work time in workplaces that are positive, inspirational, and effective. Instead, our workplaces are autocratic, chaotic, and a daily drudge.

To create great workplaces, we must upgrade our vintage 20th century work systems. All leaders must learn how to effectively lead 21st century work teams. The most common leadership practices from our vintage management past no longer apply.

Great Systems News for December 2023!

LEARN MORE about my 2-day ‘Measurement, Trending, and Predictive Analytics – How the Best Use Data to Improve’ workshop on April 29-30. It’s part of the 2024 TapRooT® Summit in Horseshoe Bay, TX.

Mark Paradise and I have taught this workshop at the Summit for over 20 years. However, recent tech advances over the past five years make it possible to rethink HOW we use data each day. How do you use data to make decisions and identify high leverage change opportunities? How do you use data to reduce waste, increase profits and provide a safe and secure workplace?

I gave this workshop significant upgrades to help you use data more effectively each day. For example, new sections with a predictive analytics focus and work team engagement focus are part of the 2-day agenda. Please join me next April for this highly interactive and insightful learning experience. Cheers!

Bring my VIRTUAL Mistake Proofing Best Practices workshop to your organization!

How often do you wait for an equipment failure, customer complaint, or late delivery to happen before you fix the broken work process? How do the best teams and workplaces proactively use proven techniques and tools to minimize daily error potential, and in turn, risk? This 2-day workshops covers the key daily work practices any team member can use top achieve these and other goals.

Message me if you have questions. If you want to check out the workshop content and exercises prior hosting a course, you can buy my full color, 156-page Mistake Proofing Best Practices workbook on

Check out my NEW “Five Essentials of Operational Excellence” article is on the website!

Over 10 NEW hours of continuous improvement video CONTENT posted on the Great Systems YouTube channel

Most Popular Posts – November 2023

Customer feedback is the best barometer of what is popular in the continuous improvement and operational excellence arenas. Here are my top five posts for the most recent month from a ‘visits per day’ perspective. How consistent is the population’s interest with yours?

Root Cause Analysis Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Five Why’s and the TapRooT® root cause analysis process? What other root cause analysis approaches do people use to help solve problems? This page explores the pros and cons of five popular root cause analysis processes.

How to Measure Employee Ownership

High levels of work team ownership are needed to help sustain great levels of customer services and product / service quality. How do you measure employee ownership in your organization? This page details ten best practice approaches to gauge work team ownership.

How to Measure Process Improvement Effectiveness

Many leaders say that they consistently improve their work processes, but how many can actually prove it? How do you know that the time and money you invest in formal process improvement truly returns value? This page gives you multiple options to measure such payback.

Work Team Characteristics – What is a Work Team?

All organizations have teams, but how many teams do they actually have in place? How many teams do they need to achieve strategy and improve performance over time? This page defines the three team types all organizations have.

Four Steps to Effective Rule Enforcement

Too many people struggle to enforce rules over time, simply because they use the wrong strategies to achieve consistent enforcement. The four-step process I detail on this page has helped many leaders achieve the levels of compliance they need day after day.

‘Teach Your Teams’ Continuous Improvement Workbooks and Workshops

I created each of my workbooks and methods through experience, practice, and experimentation. The content worked for me. So, I want to share it with you. I design my learning events to be highly interactive. Primarily, I want to help you learn to effectively teach my content, plus other content you see as a value add.

As of mid-April 2023, three courses are live on my Great Systems YouTube channel. Each ‘Team Your Teams’ course contains full audio and video content to complement the print and eBook workbooks I sell on Plus, we can set up a virtual event to help you integrate use of this content into your leadership and team development plans.

CLICK HERE to Buy Great Systems Continuous Improvement Workbooks at!

Please keep me in mind for your work system improvement needs. I am happy to facilitate a virtual 2-day workshop that utilizes any of the workbooks I offer in the Great Systems Shop. There are no travel costs.

Plus, my workshop cost per participant is very reasonable. Send me an email at, if you want to learn more about my ‘teach it yourself’ continuous improvement workbooks and workshops.

Stay Current With My Real Life Work Podcast

I know that my customers have little time to invest in work systems research. That’s why I do it for them! Each week, my ‘Real Life Work’ weekly podcast explores current operational excellence best practices and continuous improvement challenges. My goal is to place a ‘real life work’ focus on ‘how to make work better.’

The podcast is now live, with more episodes in queue. Expect to see future episodes that focus on the key elements of operational excellence. Such elements include Leader Standard Work, total team engagement, work system measurement, and proactive process improvement.

Plus, I plan to include safety and risk management best practices in the mix, along with continuous improvement and root cause analysis content. If you want to be part of the show, drop me a line at

Recent 2023 Podcasts:

‘How to Change a Work Culture’

‘Ten Ways to Measure Workplace Training Effectiveness’

‘How to Use Predictive Analytics at Work’

Root Cause Analysis Best Practices

Effective root cause analysis is a ‘must have’ tool that all work team members should use to reduce daily errors, failures, and waste. Unfortunately, most root cause analysis tools rely on opinion. For almost 20 years however, my teaching and investigative experiences have shown me how the research-driven TapRooT® root cause analysis process consistently produces different, and better, results.

Four pages on my site have a root cause analysis-specific focus. If their content does not answer all of your questions, just drop me a note!

Do Your Existing Work System Designs Promote Continuous Improvement and Operational Excellence?

Do you want to both satisfy staff expectations and minimize costs and waste? If so, keep in mind that an effective operational excellence strategy includes five essential elements:


Work system design most affects how people in formal leadership roles spend time. A foundation of effective NextGen Leader Standard Work job designs determines how leaders spend their time, each day, at work. In turn, operational excellence begins with great NextGen Leader Standard Work job designs.

Unfortunately, few organizations measure, trend, and improve how they manage meetings, communicate with their teams, or develop themselves or others. NextGen Leader Standard Work is a ‘must’ if you want to reduce waste, let alone sustain continuous improvement and operational excellence.

Plus, our work system designs determine WHO we engage with and HOW we engage with them. Consistent, meaningful collaboration is a must in the NextGen workplace. Continuous improvement is necessary for survival in a competitive, global, and ultra-dynamic business, if not life, climate.

My Personal Kaizen Process Excellence certificate process is one way to help your leaders make the NextGen Leader Standard Work transition. This process has been proven to work in multiple organizations, both formally and informally.

My ‘personal kaizen’ certification process gives you a multi-faceted way to gauge daily continuous improvement work habit practice. Plus, the process lays an effective foundation for the organization’s pursuit of operational excellence.


Third, we want every work team, through its leader, to consistently drive down errors and waste via daily proactive continuous process improvement. This area, like team engagement, gets little focus in too many cases.

The intent exists, but there simply is not enough time in the job. Too much daily Leader Standard WASTE exists. Plus, most people simply don’t have time in their jobs to contribute to effective continuous process improvement beyond idea submittal.

Workplace Safety and Risk Minimization

Often, this is most obvious in the areas of workplace safety, security, and risk management. Without improvement time in their jobs to address these areas, leaders struggle to minimize error rates, injuries, and equipment failures. Instead, they react all day to problems. For true team engagement to occur, leaders must address these core engagement factors first.

Recurring Failure Reduction

Once we address our daily team safety and security needs, we can focus on recurring failure reduction. Effective equipment reliability and asset health management practices are critical tools for daily errors and failure minimization. Leaders at all levels must track, and work to reduce, such work process challenges.

Finally, we need to develop and practice lean six sigma and other continuous improvement skills each day. For example, leaders can teach their teams how to practice 5S work habits on a daily basis. My Great Systems YouTube channel provides over 30 videos and five hours of FREE content on the basics of lean six sigma and other continuous improvement tools.

Work System Optimization – Where Should You Start Your OPEX Journey?

Finally, the ultimate goal is to integrate our great work systems into a cohesive, complimentary infrastructure that supports our mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives. Currently, little time exists to benchmark better options.

Incremental process improvement, and a few pockets of excellence, seem to be the best we can achieve. Instead, we need work systems that help make continuous process improvement a daily work habit!

To tie it all together, senior leaders must optimize work system design through work process integration, digital transformation, and best practice design application. You don’t have to take time to re-invent the wheel. Best practice tools, blueprints, workflows, and designs exist.

To improve, you just need to model, adapt, and utilize them. Here are some great places to start:

Our operational excellence journey should not be the challenge that we make it. Remember, work system design drives work team performance. Please take the time to explore how best practice work systems can help you make continuous improvement a daily work habit and accelerate your operational excellence pursuit.

Total Work Team Engagement – How Engaged are Your Work Teams?

To increase work team engagement, we need a team infrastructure that promotes total team engagement. All too often, our current work system designs limit consistent collaboration, relationship growth, and process change. All leader time goes to manage daily value stream and support process performance. No leader time for continuous or reactive improvement exists.

As a result, we waste a lot of time and money each day. Daily problems and waste drive down team morale and motivation levels. Worse yet, we create a workplace where few people want to spend time. In turn, motivation and focus drift.

However, we can’t simply form teams and solve problems. First, we need effective project and focus team leaders. Then, we need an effective team infrastructure that helps minimize team waste and focus team continuous improvement efforts.

Most importantly, we need to include time for improvement in the job designs of both of team members and leaders. No time for continuous improvement is the primary performance restrictor in most organizations. Leaders need time to increase team engagement levels as well.

Would a Great Systems Virtual Workshop Help You Make Continuous Improvement a Daily Reality?

Great Systems is NOW in its third year of virtual service! At little or no cost, you can bring my continuous improvement content to your organization. For example, the design of my ‘Teach Your Teams’ continuous improvement workbooks helps front line leaders teach continuous process improvement basics to their work teams.

Plus, I offer both static (no live interaction) and dynamic webinars (full interaction) on a regular basis. Please let me know if there is a continuous improvement topic I can help you with.

My virtual workshop model dedicates 40% or more time to breakout group work and dialogue. Also, my use of individual assignments helps increase class engagement. Assignment review helps drive learner accountability. Plus, my virtual workshop classes follow this content delivery model to make your experience more than just time spent online.

Lastly, please keep in mind that my costs are reasonable. My goal is to provide virtual courses, content, and coaching to help you maximize work team engagement and effectiveness, and optimize work system results.

Let me help you make continuous improvement a daily work habit and accelerate your operational excellence pursuit.

Connect with Kevin to Learn How Great Best Practice Work Systems Drive Operational Excellence!

Years of work and volunteer experience taught me how to design great work systems and develop great work teams. The goal has always been to make continuous improvement a daily work habit in a workplace where leaders meaningfully engage all staff. Fortunately, over 20 years of service as a National Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award Examiner helped me acquire learnings in all of these areas.

Also, I have worked for 20 years as an international, and now virtual, TapRooT® root cause analysis course facilitator. More than 10,000 hours of teaching and speaking in the past ten years alone has helped me discover even more Great Systems best practice work systems. Finally, I commit to consistent, continual personal improvement.

Would you like to learn how to design and use best practice work systems that make continuous improvement daily work habit? Do you want to accelerate your operational excellence pursuit?

If so, please connect with me on social media, or send me an email at  I hope to see you in my virtual future!

Thanks for the visit and keep improving! Kevin McManus, Chief Excellence Officer, Great Systems LLC

Great Work Systems Drive Operational Excellence

Real Life Work Support. Measurable, Sustained Results.