We talk to a lot of organizations about rapid continuous improvement, and every single one of them wants it. Why not? What’s not to love about making your organization better quickly? What companies struggle with isn’t the desire for improvement, it’s knowing where to start. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the concept. Over thinking it often leads to organizational paralysis.
Here’s an easy way to get started. We’ve put together 29 simple questions about your processes, organization, and behaviors. Ask yourself each question. If the answer is “no” - or you don’t know the answer - you’ve likely found an opportunity for a quick win. If you answer no to a lot of them, don’t panic. That's very common for an organization just starting out on their continuous improvement journey. To get started, just begin knocking them out one at a time.
- Are all critical processes documented?
- Are all process documents up to date?
- Can everyone who needs them access the process documents?
- Could process documents be improved with images or video?
- Is there a new hire training plan for each role?
- Is there a process in place to promote and facilitate cross-functional collaboration?
- Is each workspace adequately arranged and equipped for the work that happens there?
- Do employees have an easy way to report potential opportunities for improvement?
- Have employees been trained on the rapid continuous improvement philosophy and introduced to Kaizen?
- Is there a catchball system in place for improvement activities?
- Do managers have a way to broadcast improvements?
- Is there a recognition engine for those who contribute to positive change?
- Do managers spend at least some time each month going to the place where work gets done to observe and reflect?
- Are individual, departmental and company goals all aligned?
- Have the company’s short and long term goals been communicated to every employee?
- Is there a structure in place to support the PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) approach to improvement?
- Are employees given constructive feedback frequently enough?
- Is there a repository for documenting improvement efforts and capturing tribal knowledge?
- Have you trimmed down on excess inventory, parts, or projects?
- Does each area of the business have a clearly defined list of key performance indicators and a way to measure them?
- Is it easy for a prospect or customer who visits your website or calls your organization to find the information or person they need?
- Can employees easily identify and reach others in the organization who might be able to help them with a challenge?
- Are the results of improvement activities measured against business objectives such as cost savings, quality improvement and revenue?
- Is employee engagement actively managed and measured?
- Is there a process for getting to the root cause of product defects or dissatisfied customers?
- Is the process of buying from you as painless as possible?
- Is there a simple way for customers to provide both positive and negative feedback?
- Do managers have real-time visibility into the status of improvement projects?
- Do employees feel empowered to speak up when they spot an urgent problem?
Of course this list doesn’t include every aspect of business that might be ripe for rapid continuous improvement, but we hope it’s given you at least a few ideas of where you might get started. Pick one, try it out and let us know how it goes.
What questions have you asked yourself in the pursuit of continuous improvement? Scroll down to leave a comment on this post and tell us about it.
Having trouble finding the time for improvement? Check out this webinar for some ways to make more time.