When starting a continuous improvement (CI) project, the simplest and the most important thing to do is to communicate to your organization and clients that you want to continually improve the services provided. State this intention through strategy reviews and team briefings. This is the most effective way to get the CI culture moving.
To help us improve faster than the competition we should aim to empower the team to make improvement directly. This has the advantage of boosting your improvement capacity; it also allows for far more hidden improvement opportunities to be realized. Some organizations may tend to channel improvement activity through dedicated improvement teams or individuals. This approach can be limited due to the lack of improvement capacity. All team members can be encouraged to engage in improvement activity, maximizing the volume of change and improvement that can be achieved. To achieve total team empowerment, a robust but simple change process should be introduced that allows all team members to make changes.
The focus should be on allowing all team members to make controlled changes by following a well-designed change process. Improvement culture can be measured by the number of improvements identified and actioned by the organization. It’s good practice to routinely report on CI progress back to the team and clients; this can underpin the organization’s commitment to continual improvement activity.
There are obvious commercial advantages that can be gained from a healthy and robust CI culture. However, it should also be pointed out that an empowered team will tend to be more productive due to the direct input from the owners into the business’s success. Team moral can be greatly improved by encouraging their involvement. Managed correctly, this team member responsibility can further improve an organization’s responsiveness and change of pace. CI organizations are nice places to be, where team members are more likely to use their full potential.
There are many tools and techniques that can be used to help boost your team’s improvement capacity. Usually these require some training to be effective. But it should be pointed out that specialized tools are not necessarily required to enable a successful CI culture.
3 Steps in Revamping Your Business Culture:
- Kaizen: Kaizen, or Continuous Improvement Teams can be encouraged to evolve to tackle specific improvement opportunities. Groups can be trained to be more effective, but teams can also evolve organically without specific training.
- Lean: This training will help your team to become faster and reduce costs. Lean training allows staff to identify and reduce wasted effort. Usually deployed within an organization or group, this is the perfect training to support an established CI culture.
- Six Sigma: Six Sigma is best used to improve the standard of products and services by reducing output variation. Six Sigma should only be used following good Lean and 5S development.
CI can be developed into any organization relatively easily and with little cost.
Good management and leadership is the key to success. By following the three simple steps above an improvement culture can flourish in your business.
Most CI projects require little or no cost. An accumulation of several small improvements are sometime better than one large improvement.