Can’t we all just get along?
What’s more important to your business and its bottom line, continuous improvement or innovation?
At first glance, both continuous improvement and innovation share many similarities. For example, when employed properly, both involve the entire organization, both can improve efficiency and productivity, and both provide opportunities to improve quality and increase value to customers. However, there are differences.
Continuous improvement explained
Continuous improvement is a commitment to a philosophy and process of consistently looking at ways the organization can get better. And while most commonly associated with processes, it includes its people and its products as well.
Continuous improvement focuses on existing organizational elements and provides opportunities to identify and get rid of waste, reduce defects, improve the quality of your products and services, generate greater customer satisfaction, as well as, getting rid of the road blocks and frustrations that kills employee morale.
Innovation involves turning a creative idea or a concept into reality. It means doing something new, different, or better that results in a positive difference for your organization.
Innovation can come from anywhere. It can arise organically from within the organization, from employees with an idea. Or, innovation can come from a systematic approach beginning with analyzing the marketplace or environment, recognizing a need and utilizing a creative process to generate ideas, develop and test, and then launch.
So, what’s the difference?
The difference is continuous improvement deals with things that currently exist, and consistently strives to make them better. Innovation, on the other hand, takes something that doesn’t exist and translates it into something that does exist. You can continue to refine a candle (continuous improvement), but it will never be a light-bulb (if you could, now that would be innovative!)
So, which is the more important to your organization and its bottom line, continuous improvement, or innovation?
By leveraging a culture of continuous improvement you realize gains in efficiency and productivity that can lead to increased profitability. Being committed to innovation ensures your organization has a process, organic or otherwise, to continually develop and produce products and processes that deliver positive results. The combination of the two pack a real one-two punch and deliver great benefits for your organization’s people, products, and processes, and its bottom line.