Incremental Improvement: Small and Steady
When attempting to solve organizational problems, it’s tempting to focus all of your efforts on finding that one big “breakthrough” idea. That’s why we hire such extraordinary people, right? We want them to give us the million dollar idea that will solve all of our problems, but then we invest so much time and money into those ideas that we exhaust our resources.
The answer to this dilemma is to take a different approach: incremental improvement, in which you and your staff focus your efforts on smaller solutions that slowly but surely move the business toward success.
Here are 3 benefits:
- Ideas are easier to implement
Incremental improvements typically have a low barrier to implementation. The ideas coming from employees are less likely to be radically different, and are therefore inherently easier to implement. Also, staff-generated ideas can start out being tested in one work area to determine their success and impact, before being spread through the organization. Additionally, there is decreased resistance from staff for these smaller, bottom-up changes, because they find direct applicability to the work they do and are invested in the success of their solutions.
- Improvement is cheaper
This approach makes the most of your existing resources – infrastructure, staff, and knowledge – without the added expense of new research, consultants, or equipment, so you don’t need major capital investments. These are typically improvements that your staff is empowered to make with the resources at hand.
- Increased staff engagement
Incremental improvement draws upon the collective knowledge of your staff, allowing you to harness the power of your crowd to make your business better. This responsibility and recognition encourages staff engagement that will promote pride in one’s work and incite voluntary participation. The ideas people will generate will be about making their jobs more enjoyable and improving the way they serve your customers, improving both the employee and the customer experience.
Whatever work you’re doing, consider giving this approach to improvement a try. I think you’ll find the ideas to be easier and cheaper to implement, with the added benefit of increased staff engagement.