Continuous Improvement - The Corus Way
A Corus case study

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Page 3: Top-down committment - The Corus Academy

Implementation is the process of putting plans into action. Having a belief that CI is the way forward is good but the next step is to create the means to achieve it. To implement CI in a consistent way across Corus' four divisions which contain over 20 different units and functions, co-ordination was required from the top.

Corus AcademyA 'virtual' Corus Academy was set up in April 2005, led by a steering group of executive directors, together with a smaller Implementation Group. The Academy provided an enabling structure combining technology, experience and expertise. This encouraged an open learning environment, based on sharing best practice and maximising the use of common approaches. The Academy is split into five work areas.

As Corus is a global company, it needs to communicate internationally and this is where virtual learning is helpful. Examples of best practice can be conveyed in electronic format and shared in databases across the entire organisation. For example, a Corus plant in the Netherlands or UK can learn from the practice of improvements in similar processes in Canada or the United States. CI activities at the Duffel aluminium products plant in Belgium learnt how to more effectively remove waste from the Cap-de-la-Madelaine plant in Canada.

Learning at Corus The Academy provides a means of sharing knowledge. Best practice leads to common methods across the businesses. In this way Corus has become a learning organisation. Constant improvements are made through the sharing of ideas across the entire company. There should be no barriers to contact. Learning at Corus, and hence CI, comes from using common language and common tools and sharing best practice and standards.

Learning within the company is achieved through opening communication channels. It also occurs from encouraging everyone to become involved by suggesting and applying changes. This is best achieved when a shared language is used to discuss issues. There are common tools, such as shared databases. In addition, all parts of Corus work together to share examples of best practice. This is so that common approaches can be developed, with best practice being regularly updated in line with improvements.

Corus saw that training was the underlying imperative which would drive the CI process. There was a need to train senior managers to raise awareness and to develop a team of CI coaches to bring about the required changes. An initial target of 250 CI coaches was set across the company as a whole, who in turn would provide the training for the entire workforce to ensure effective implementation.

The lead role in training was placed in the newly formed department of Corporate Training and Learning. This was a central function created to assist the effective implementation of corporate initiatives. In April 2005, the Academy was launched and CI began in earnest at Corus.

Corus | Continuous Improvement - The Corus Way