Principle 3 – Incremental improvements are typically inexpensive to implement
Employees tend to focus on small changes that can be accomplished without a lot of expense. In fact, many ideas from employees involve eliminating processes, rather than adding them, which is an excellent way to be sure that every activity adds some value to the customer and reduces wasted effort.
We have the benefit here at KaiNexus of being able to see the detailed improvement data of a ton of organizations at every stage of the improvement journey around the world, in nearly every industry. Through examining that data, we've discovered that 1.4% of improvement ideas have an impact of over $100,000 - and each employee has an average annual impact of $25,000. So, not only are these ideas inexpensive to implement - they can also have a huge impact on your bottom line.
Read more about the impact of improvement here.
Principle 4 – Employees take ownership and are involved in improvement
Getting people to change the way they've always done things is hard. Do you know what makes it easier? Rolling out changes that originated from the front lines. When people come up with the ideas to improve their own work, they intrinsically see the value of the changes. Knowing that improvements come from their peers inspires faith in the necessity of the changes much more so than does a decree from senior leadership who has never actually done the process in question.
By engaging your staff in the continuous improvement model, you empower them to take charge of their own work (but you help them as leaders). They're able to identify problems or opportunities for improvement, follow through on implementing their ideas, take credit for the work, and see a measurable impact from their efforts. In this way, the sole burden of improvement is lifted from managers, who can spend their time more effectively coaching staff on improvement techniques and removing barriers to implementing changes.
Because the continuous improvement model relies on employees for ideas for improvement, they become more invested in the outcome of the change, and employee engagement increases. This increases the chance of successful, sustainable improvement.
For more information about overcoming resistance to change, check out this free webinar:
Principle 5 – Improvement is reflective
Constant feedback is an important aspect of the continuous improvement model. Open communication during every phase of executing an improvement is critical to both the final results of the improvement and to the maintenance of employee engagement.
Admittedly, this is tough to pull off in a traditional improvement culture. Coaches don't have the visibility they need to keep up with everyone doing the improvement work, senior leaders can't engage without a major time commitment, meetings are tough to schedule, and communication gets buried in inboxes.
Organizations with a more modern approach to improvement use continuous improvement software to improve visibility and team collaboration, giving coaches access to the reports they need to evaluate performance and target coaching. Senior leaders can follow the improvements that matter to them and engage quickly and easily. Staff can get the help they need from their managers without having to wait for a meeting or a email. Essentially, continuous improvement software gets everyone on the same page by improving visibility and streamlining communication.
Principle 6 – Improvement is measurable and potentially repeatable
It is not enough to simply make a change and call it improvement. To achieve real improvement, the impact of change must be measured. This makes it possible to determine if the change can be applied successfully to other problems. Proving positive ROI also helps keep the organization aligned around improvement.
Making continuous improvement part of company culture is an excellent and cost-effective approach to tackling an organization’s most difficult challenges. When supported by improvement technology, results can be achieved quickly and success can be sustained over time.