As 2016 draws to a close, our thoughts turn to what’s ahead in the coming year. Many of us vow to hit the gym or lay off the Doritos. We might even resolve to be a little kinder and more generous in the months to come.
This is a good time of year to make some business-related resolutions as well.
If you are reading this blog, continuous improvement is probably something that matters to you, so we’d like to offer some ideas for continuous improvement New Year’s resolutions.
Take the Time to Assess 2016’s Improvement Efforts
It seems simple, but too often we jump right from one thing to the next without taking the time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t. We recommend gathering the team and highlighting some of the biggest successes of the year. Discuss what made them so effective and look for ways to replicate what works. Were there obstacles? If so, what can be done to minimize or eliminate them in 2017?
Try a New Technique
There are so many continuous improvement tools and techniques that we’d be surprised if you are using them all. Trying a new one is a great goal for the New Year. You might consider value stream mapping, virtual huddle meetings, Standard Work, Kanban, or any other approach that you have yet to try.
Spend More Time at the Gemba
When we mention Gemba walks to managers, they frequently respond that they believe in the value, but that Gemba walks are often missed due to other “more pressing” priorities. Don’t let this happen to you next year. Carve out time to walk the Gemba and make it as important as anything else (because it is).
Focus on Recognition
Another important aspect of continuous improvement that often gets neglected when people get busy is recognition. Employees who are recognized and rewarded for their engagement in improvement efforts are more likely to continue such work and spread the culture of improvement to others. It doesn’t hurt at all to broadcast successful improvements to the organization. Remember that this doesn't have to be a huge time commitment from you, either - continuous improvement software like KaiNexus has an awesome virtual badge program that compliments your real-life recognition process nicely for increased engagement.
Help Everyone Stay Connected to the Strategy
Many organizations roll out their goals for the next year around this time, but without a good plan for making them meaningful to each individual, they are just words on paper. Make 2017 the year that everyone pulls in the same direction toward common ends. This happens when people are involved in developing the tactics that will drive the strategy and when individual, team and corporate goals are aligned.
Carve out Space for Learning
One mistake we see organizations make is taking a one-and-done approach to training on continuous improvement. Don’t be that guy. Instead, plan for periodic training sessions and build in opportunities to practice improvement techniques. For example, it’s perfectly OK to plan a Kaizen event just to give folks the chance to participate in one.
These are a few of the things we recommend leaders focus on in 2017. We’re sure you have more ideas for continuous improvement New Year’s resolutions. We’d love to hear them.