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How to Build Your Continuous Improvement Culture

Posted by Danielle Yoon

Apr 20, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Image of a succesful casual business woman using laptop during meeting

Are you struggling to drive a continuous improvement culture in your organization?

Do you need to revive a CI culture that has lost momentum? 

If you’re like so many others, it can be difficult to know which questions to ask, and where to start.

Jeff Roussel, chief revenue officer of KaiNexus and a true continuous improvement leader and believer, recently joined Allison Greco, founder of Continuous Improvement International, to talk about how you can build a continuous improvement culture. To watch a full recap, click here.

Jeff has spoken with over 1,000 companies about their Lean and continuous improvement journeys, and he’s learned the challenges that the typical organization faces.

To start off, let’s focus on a business concept called the Golden Triangle. At a high-level, anytime you’re trying to implement something or make a change in an organization, you need to focus on three primary areas — people, process, and technology. It’s important to note that these areas feed off each other. If you can do these things together, you have a much greater chance of being successful.

When talking about the Golden Triangle in continuous improvement, the three areas break down to leadership, improvement processes, and enabling technology. All three components help build that culture of continuous improvement. You can look at these three key areas in your organization to get a sense of what challenges you’re currently facing and how you can provide solutions.

Webinar Recording: Creating a Culture of Improvement Cast Study

Leadership

Great Lean leadership requires commitment, communication, resources, and accountability. If you find that your organization is lacking in this specific area, there are a few easy things you can do:

  • State your belief in continuous improvement - you have to convince your organization that you believe in continuous improvement… repeatedly. 
  • Explain why improvement is important - how is continuous improvement going to affect your goals and strategy?
  • Participate in improvement yourself.
  • Spend lots of time in the Gemba.
  • Ask often for Opportunities for Improvement - ask for the small ideas, along with the big ones.
  • Respond quickly to every new idea - try to solve something while the ideas come through.
  • Set a goal to implement something.
  • Help create time for your people to take action - try having meetings solely focused on improvements.
  • Teach your people how to practice basic problem solving.
  • Teach your people how to identify waste.

Improvement Processes

If you can develop the right processes, you give yourself an advantage to sustain a great culture. Great improvement processes are simple, consistent, disciplined, and organized. If you want to improve your processes, there are a few easy things you can do:

  • Teach your people how to identify waste - this is different based on what you do in your day-to-day.
  • Teach your people how to practice basic problem solving.
  • Teach your people a simple improvement process - have your people capture, implement, measure, and share the improvement work.
  • Figure out a way to organize improvements - how are you going to make sure that ideas don’t fall through the cracks.
  • Set up a cadence.

Enabling Technology

Great improvement technology helps solve visibility, collaboration, standards, sharing, and impact. If you are struggling with one of those areas, evaluate the technology you’re currently using and see if that’s where the problem is. 

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To improve your continuous improvement culture, just get started. Start by diagnosing the areas that need work by evaluating your people, processes, and technology. It's also important to never forget why it’s called continuous improvement. This is an ongoing process that does not have an end. You aren’t trying to finish x amount of improvements, but you are trying to establish a new culture of continuous improvement.

Topics: Improvement Culture

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