It’s that time of year again when we all resolve to lay off the Burrito Supremes and spend more time at the gym. Yet somehow, Taco Bell is still in business. Maybe we need to set some better goals for this year. Let’s take a break from thinking about our waistlines for a bit, and instead, focus on what you can do to maximize the impact of your continuous improvement efforts on your organization's bottom line in 2016. Here are a few New Year’s resolutions that can help continuous improvement organizations tackle the year's biggest challenges.
1 – Reflect on the Successes of 2015
An important part of continuous improvement is recognizing what works and repeating it. Don’t let 2016 get too far underway before you review this year’s accomplishments. In addition to taking note of your most successful improvements, take a moment to recognize the employees who made them happen.
2 – Identify and Eliminate Obstacles to Improvement
Continuous improvement organizations leverage many tools and techniques to identify opportunities to improve processes, but too often the need to improve improvement is neglected. For example, does every employee have an easy way to report opportunities for improvement? Have they been trained on how and when to do it? Are there sufficient executive support and resources for improvement work? Has the team been trained on useful techniques like PDSA, the 5 Whys, and Hoshin Kanri? During 2016, make it your mission to find anything that slows improvement momentum and mitigate it.
3 – Expand the Number of People Who Contribute to Improvement
If you can increase the number of people who offer ideas for improvement, get involved in PDSA cycles, or participate in Kaizen events, you have the opportunity to exponentially grow your resources and have a major impact on the organization. Each person has a unique perspective to bring to problem-solving. In 2016, harness the collective creative power of the organization by pulling more people into the improvement process.
4 – Become Fanatical About Collecting Tribal Knowledge
An improvement, no matter how successful, that isn’t documented is a lost opportunity. Make 2016 the year that everyone has the tools and incentive to document all improvement work and objectively measure the results. By creating a repository of the organization’s collective wisdom, you are able to avoid repeating mistakes, leverage what works and protect against knowledge loss that comes with turnover.
5 - Implement or Improve Standard Work
Standard work is the documentation of the best, most efficient sequences and methods for each process and each worker. It is the essential foundation that all improvement is built on, yet too many organizations don’t utilize it or they take an ineffective one-and-done approach that results in outdated, ignored or useless documentation. Don’t let that happen to you in 2016. If you haven’t implemented standard work, now is the time to do so. If you have, use the turn of the year as an opportunity to make sure that standard work is up-to-date, accessible and ready to be improved upon.
We love this time of year because the world is full of so many possibilities. We hope that the new year will be a new beginning for your continuous improvement organization. We wish you a joyful holiday season and the best year ever in 2016!