6 Principles for Continuous Improvement
Today, I believe that we seem to overcomplicate certain elements of growth and improvement. Continuous improvement is one of those things. We repackage and rebrand things to create the perception that without us, it can’t be done. This is the consulting world in general. Is this really the case? I believe with these few principles and actual execution, your organization can see improvement. Below are a few of those principles:
Principle 1 – Focus is on small, incremental improvements, not large paradigm shifts. Everyone is hoping for the magic bullet that will magically drive a mystical change within the organization. It does not exist. It is the daily grind of small improvements that will show real value and drive change. Do you truly want change?
Principle 2 – Ideas must come from employees. More than likely, they have been trying to tell you in multiple ways that there is a problem with their system, line, or machine and have probably provided an idea for a solution. Are we listening?
Principle 3 – Small incremental improvements are normally inexpensive and fairly easy to implement in the scheme of things. These are the quick wins and low hanging fruit that should be focused on, not only to improve, but to develop a much-needed credibility for most people. Why not do it?
Principle 4– Empower employees to take ownership and solution the improvement. Allow them to do what they are wanting to do to improve. Some mistakes will be made, but this is the way you learn, grow, and drive success. What is the risk of striving to improve?
Principle 5 – Improvement must have open communication and honest feedback. When things do not work, can they be tweaked? Was it a complete disaster? Do you have the capability to solve it? Does anyone within the organization have the ability to help? You have to be honest will all levels of the organization. If you do not have the expertise, why try to hide it? When things are successful, are all the right people receiving the due credit? Has it been told to the entire organization? Brag about successes and honest about failures.
Principle 6 – Improvement is normally measurable and repeatable. A true improvement can be measured over time. 30 minutes of success is not a large enough sample to denote it as a success. Has improved over the month? 3 months? 1 year? This is when you know you are seeing success. It is also repeatable and duplicatable within similar systems with minor tweaking. Can you roll this improvement out to other lines?