Have you heard of the term ‘don’t just go through life, grow through life?’
It’s a way of life we could probably do with adopting for ourselves, but the same basis can apply to our business. Whether you are a multinational or start-up, we should always be growing in some way. This doesn’t necessarily relate to our growth in terms of size or employee numbers, but to the increase of profitability, efficiency and staff skillsets. There is always something to improve on, even in the most successful of companies.
On a small scale, continuous improvement helps teams to operate more effectively. Implemented on a large scale, the outcomes can be much more profound – with your business going from surviving to thriving. The idea is that you learn to work smarter (not harder) constantly re-examining and improving processes, thus optimising the quality of your product/service.
It sounds great right? You’d think continuous improvement would be at the top of everyone’s agenda all day every day.
Many of us, although we may not like to admit it – love our comfort zones. Change can often be frowned upon – if it’s not broken, why fix it?
This is NOT how any business should be operating. We’ve seen the huge advances that the world has made in the last century. From people’s awareness to futuristic technology, you are not marketing to the same cohort you were ten years ago – it’s a fact.
Every business truly does have the power to be adaptive and stick out from the crowd – so make it exciting! It’s entirely possible, you just have to have the drive and motivation to do so.
Before anything else – it is important to understand the concept of continuous improvement. It is not built on a set of ‘dos’ or strict orders, rather it is a mixture of both creating an organisational culture/mindset and making practical changes.
When we speak of creating a culture, the aim is to incorporate continuous improvement into the DNA make-up of the business. Every employee should have the opportunity and support to develop themselves, their processes and their work environment too. Managers will play a key role in the implementation of a culture, but the results will be ultimately down to how they choose to initiate the changes within the team. Establishing a why, effective communication, employee ownership of internal processes, employees studying their own success and failure – these are all tips for establishing a culture successfully.
The practical changes will be the visible changes seen in activities. This is ‘why’ we’re doing it and ‘how’ we’re doing it:
(You could call this the mathematical equation of continuous improvement!)
There are several process improvement methods that will help you to continually improve your services and products. Here are three examples:
Lean Methodology – This philosophy sets out to enhance customer experience by defining the value placed on your product or service by the customer, and then working backwards to eliminate any waste (Muda) activities or processes. In essence, you are streamlining your processes to leave just what you need – leaving you with more time to focus on customers and growth.
Six-Sigma – This method is focused on improving the quality of business processes by using statistics to limit variation, to increase consistency and increase performance.
PDCA – Plan. Do. Check. Act. This is a cyclic process that uses trial, error and quantitative research to find the best solution to increase efficiency in processes.
Kaizen – Every process can be improved nothing should be set in stone. This subtle change approach for continuously fine-tuning processes and improving best practices.
The above methods of process improvement are tried and tested ways to implement change into your organisation. Here is some day to day examples that you can implement in your business structure, that work towards creating that culture of continuous improvement we all dream of.
Hint – It’s important that employees feel they have the right to give their opinion, so try to create an honest and open environment.
Hint – you may not have considered it yet, but some parts of a process could be automated, this would save you heaps of time!
Hint – Make sure the responsible individual knows what is expected of them with clear guidelines, goals and desired outcomes!
Hint – remember to include a mixture of questions, but don’t make it so lengthy that the employee will become bored or irritated by the end of it.
A business with a culture of continuous improvement is one that all business owners should be aspiring to. Don’t stay stagnant and wait for your competitors to beat you to the post. Every business really does have the opportunity to adapt and be resourceful to make positive changes.
‘Don’t just go through life, grow though life’ Eric Butterworth
At Checkify – our goal is to aid businesses to do just that – help them weave through the various routes of continuous improvement.
Don’t hesitate and get in touch today
Improving Processes and Establishing Best Practices