Continuous Improvement is an idea that originally stemmed from the Japanese manufacturing world. You may see it referred to as Kaizen.
The idea, in a nutshell, is that everything can be improved upon, no matter how successful. It has become common practice in some businesses to launch a product, idea or process and then sit back and watch, or move on to something else. Continuous improvement encourages people to consistently revisit and reassess, asking the question ‘what can we now improve upon?’
You might be having had a great day. Fantastic! But follow it with the question – “What can I do to make it even better next time?”
Achieving continuous improvement in your workplace will involve a culture change across the whole organisation, which can take time and patience. As a guide, we have put together some simple steps to get you started with creating a culture of continuous improvement in your workplace:
Make a commitment
Get your whole organisation on the same page and make the commitment to continuous improvement together. It is important that everyone moves together, towards the same goal.
Integrate the idea of improvement into your daily routine. After every success and in every meeting ensure to ask the question – ‘What can we do now to make that even better?’ Get your staff to make a weekly commitment to make one small change to their own processes to improve them. It will initially take some effort, but, after a while, it will become a habit and your team will automatically start to look for the next step in all their work.
Continuous improvement needs to be a key part of everyone’s job, not just the leadership team. We’ve talked before about ‘Why Lean Programmes Fail‘ where the overall solution to counteract failing Lean initiatives is to develop an ‘Improvement Kata‘ within the organisation. Engagement from all aspects of the team is important to ensure this does not turn into a fault finding exercise. Be positive! Give everyone a voice and talk about the fantastic change embracing Kaizen will bring to the workplace.
Set KPIs and Measure the Results
Make sure you are tracking the changes the improvements have made so that you can communicate them back to the team. We would always suggest that you track your results visually using effective and engaging visual management to easily communicate to the entire team whether you’re having a good day, or a bad one – and the progress of your continuous improvement initiatives.
Communicate and Celebrate
Keep your team in the loop and make sure to celebrate the difference they have made. This will help them to see the value in constantly looking for improvements.
Patience is a virtue
Results are rarely instant and it takes time to change the culture of an organisation. Continuous improvement is not about quick wins, so it is important to keep your team motivated whilst you all strive toward the bigger picture goal. Working towards improvement is still worth celebrating and, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Review, Repeat and Improve
Take your own advice and apply this methodology to the process. Ensure to review the implementation, if it isn’t working, try something new. If it is, look for how it could be even better.
Would you like a little help introducing a culture of improvement in your workplace? Here at ClarityVM Consulting, we offer a range of bespoke consultancy packages to aid clients on their Lean journey. To spark off your change and start making savings in your workplace, book an Ignite Session today. If we can’t add value to your business our sessions come with a money back guarantee, so you literally have nothing to lose!
Helping you build an improvement culture…
Here at ClarityVM Consulting, we coach clients both far and wide about how they can use Lean and visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures Lean is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality visual management products to sustain the initiative and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.
You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies
Further reading on the Clarity Blog:
- Developing an Effective Standard Operating Procedure
- ClarityVM at the Nissan Sunderland Plant
- Assessing Goals and Auditing Strategies
- Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station – Saving Lives With Lean Thinking
- A Visual Management Definition You Can Rely On
- Kaizen Events: Clarity Consulting’s Secret Weapon
- Why Your Workplace Communication Fails (…and How To Improve It)
- Why Lean Programmes Fail
- 6 Simple Solutions to Battle Workplace Stress
- How To Make Your Process Improvements Stick Around