Rapid Process Streamlining™ (RPS) is an approach to simplifying any process, reducing the number of steps and things that can go wrong. Processes often need to be streamlined because they naturally become more complex over time.

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As processes operate, problems happen and are often remedied by adding to the process. Over several years, a process that was once simple becomes unwieldy. As a result:

  • Cycle time—the time it takes to complete the process from start to finish—is much longer than desired.

  • Much rework happens within the process, frustrating participants and slowing the process.

  • Process complexity makes it challenging to learn the process, making it difficult to train new participants.

Just as a newly organized garage almost immediately accumulates clutter, a simple process gets messier over time.

Rapid Process Streamlining™ refers to doing it not just fast but very effectively. The approach grew out of a business need to streamline an existing process within a week while the process continued to operate, resulting in a substantially better process at the start of the following week.

This doesn't require you to move that fast, but you can if you want. The major strength of this approach is more than just speed—it's incredibly thorough.

Like most process optimization approaches, Kure focuses on value-added and non-value-added steps, essentially deciding on what's needed and what takes time and effort. But that’s where the similarity ends. Other approaches focus on eliminating the non-value-added steps, often resulting in a lot of anguish trying to eliminate steps that aren’t needed. Still, we can’t seem to do without.

In most complex processes, the value-added steps account for about 5% of the total steps, so if the process has 100 steps (not uncommon at the operational level), there are 95 non-value-added steps and only 5 value-added steps. Removing the non-value-added steps can take a lot of time with marginal results.

Kure’s approach is to initially presume that only the value-added steps remain, challenging the improvement team to determine how to make those steps successfully work together with a minimum number of additional (non-value-added) steps. We can think of those few added steps as the “glue” that enables the small number of value-added steps to work together.

Kure directly addresses two significant challenges through process streamlining:

  • Process steps not defined in sufficient detail

  • The need to address problems found during process operation

To quickly eliminate as much waste from a process, we need to map it at a very detailed level—a level that approaches work instructions. Think about the level of detail you'd need to describe how to do your job to someone new. If they're covering for you while you go on vacation, you wouldn’t want to come back to a mess so that you'd tell them everything. This could take a long time, but Kure makes it easy.

Kure begins with a high-level Process Map–perhaps 4 to 10 steps, or the level of detail you'd use to describe the process to a visitor–enough detail to get the general flow without boring them to death!

Then for each step, we identify the subject matter expert for that step–usually someone who's been doing that job for a while. We also identify a non-expert; this can be nearly anyone unfamiliar with the work. Together they detail the step into as many smaller steps as needed to describe how the work is done completely:

  • The subject matter expert describes how the work is done to the non-expert.

  • The non-experts ensure the explanation is complete, asking for more detail.

If there are various subject matter experts, this can be done concurrently for all the high-level steps, producing a detailed process map in hours, not days!

The detailed Process Map should display where problems happen. This will often be evident when a decision box (a diamond) checks for something and finds it wrong. Then the process branches back to correct. Kure calls these conditions loopbacks.

Example loopbacks might include:

  • Discovering that some customer information is missing or incorrect

  • Discovering that an invalid product number has been ordered

  • Discovering that the customer has been promised an item that's out of stock

These loopbacks are all error conditions that should be eliminated. We attempt to eliminate all the loopbacks by solving the underlying problem. If we cannot eliminate the loopback, we try to make it happen less and be less severe when it does happen. Using this approach, most, if not all, of the loopbacks can be eliminated, so they need not be handled in the new process, making it easier to streamline.

The ideal process with minimum non-valued steps and the loopback elimination work are merged into a final streamlined process. Next, we write new work instructions, detailed enough to pilot the new process. The pilot will either prove the new process or highlight further improvements needed.

All this can be done in less than a week with the proper preparation, but it’s a pretty intense effort! Kure allows you to optimize at your own pace but will always steer you to the best functionality and much less complexity.


Kure guides you through each step in your process optimization journey by asking simple questions and providing guidance along the way. Powered by our Process Optimization Path™ (artificial intelligence), Kure will help you and your teams collaborate to complete process improvement projects together.

Ready to apply Rapid Process Streamlining™ to a process?

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