Continuous improvement – how to make it work
I don’t think anyone would discount the benefits of continuous improvement to an organization and its customers. For the organization, benefits arise from investing in, educating, and developing its people, and continually enhancing the processes of how you get things out the door. For the customer, continually improving means being able to provide the customer with the highest, most competitive, level of satisfaction. But, what are the keys to unlocking the benefits of a culture of continuous improvement in an organization?
5 keys to successful continuous improvement in your organization
- Executive commitment. It all starts at the top. The president or owner must believe in continuous improvement – completely. If it is a “nice idea” or some “flavour of the month”, or “we really should be doing this”, don’t bother. It will do more harm than good. Executive personnel need to believe, be committed, able to link the initiative to the company vision, and articulate the benefits for the organization.
- Communication. Employees need to fully understand what continuous improvement means, what the expectations surrounding continuous improvement are, what is expected of them, how it benefits them, and how executive and management will support the initiative. Communication efforts will need to be continuous – update your employees regularly, and through different communication channels on how efforts are progressing and on the positive impacts on the organization.
- Training. Employees require training to support the continuous improvement initiative. Determine what new or additional skills are needed and commit to making the time for training, regardless of business crises, vacations, or whatever else might possibly stand in the way.
- Recognition & incentives. Commit to rewarding good behaviour. Implement a recognition program – highlight achievements and celebrate successes. Evaluate whether an incentive program would work to further support efforts. Being recognized and receiving additional monies can go a long way in helping sustain your continuous improvement efforts.
- Stay with the program. Evaluate and continually adapt your continuous improvement initiative. Are the training efforts producing the results you planned? How are the continuous improvement efforts affecting projects? How much are you spending on the program and what are you getting from it? By evaluating and adjusting to meet changing needs, you’ll be able to stick with the initiative.
Continuous improvement offers many benefits to an organization, and its customers. Unlock the benefits by focussing on 5 keys – executive commitment, communication, training, rewards & incentives, and a will to stick with the program.