A guide to Rapid Improvement Workshops (RIW)

Rapid improvement workshop illustration by Ad Esse Consulting

Focus on a targeted process or problem area to deliver breakthrough improvements rapidly. This workshop allows you to achieve significant, clear & quick results, and generate employee enthusiasm for problem solving.

What is a Rapid Improvement Workshop?

A Rapid Improvement Workshop (RIW) focuses on a targeted process or problem area to deliver breakthrough improvements rapidly. It is about deliberately constructing an environment where the team can create and rapidly implement ideas in order to resolve critical business issues in an effective way. RIWs bring together cross-functional teams for 3-5 days (depending on problem/process) to dissect and implement process changes. We love them because:

  • They act as a “kick-start” to Continuous Improvement
  • They deliver major, sustainable, organisation improvements FAST

Why use RIWs?

Due to the short nature of the RIW event, all resources are focused towards a narrow and specific objective. This intensity and urgency overcome the intellectual resistance to a new way of working. The implementation is dramatic, and the results are significant, clear and quick. This generates immediate employee enthusiasm and satisfaction making the RIW a great approach for improvement & problem solving.

Learn how Poplar HARCA improved resident satisfaction with a Rapid Improvement Workshop.

How to conduct a RIW

The fundamental structure of a RIW splits into a preparation phase, the event itself, and the follow up phase. In order to be considered a RIW the team should aim to have 60%+ of the implementation actions completed by the end of the RIW week. The remaining actions are completed in the follow up phase of the project.


The preparation phase (1-4 wks before workshop)

Identify the need for a Rapid Improvement Workshop and link this to your strategic objectives. Then you need to gain management commitment. After you’ve done this, you need to:

  • Set scope and goals
  • Pick a team leader
  • Select a RIW team
  • Book a venue
  • Advise Managers on their roles
  • Gather data on current performance
  • Review and implement an Information Centre 


During the workshop (3-5 days)

  • Review diagnostic
  • Train participants
  • Identify and capture future process
  • Implement the majority of improvements
  • Agree measures and outline the expected benefits
  • Prepare management feedback
  • Create an action plan


Follow up phase (1-12 wks after workshop)

Implement the action plan and present outcomes to Managers. Following on from this workshop, you need to:

  • Monitor progress
  • Measure performance
  • Track benefits
  • Share successes
  • Ensure local accountability and sustainability

“Residents are much more satisfied because our service is more consistent and there are clear actions… The [Rapid Improvement Workshop] helped us to think in different ways and we had a lot of fun doing it.”

Liz Williams, Assistant Director of Repairs & Property Services

If you have any question or would like us to run a Rapid Improvement Workshop, get in touch. Email hello@ad-esse.com or use our Contact page.

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