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Incremental Improvement: Scoring Big with Base Hits

Posted by Matt Banna

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Jun 10, 2016 8:00:00 AM



Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Kris Bryant hit the ball out of the park as much as anyone, but swinging for the fences during every at bat is not how offenses contribute to winning championships in baseball. That’s done by stringing together a series of timely base hits, perhaps with a grand slam thrown in once in a while for emphasis.

Winning companies are similar. Sure, once in a while a massive breakthrough results in big change, but for the most part, organizations get better through a series of small, incremental improvements. Each improvement project might not seem like a big deal, but together they add up to put you far ahead of the competition. Here’s how you can round the bases.

First Base: Capture Opportunities

Incremental improvement happens when everyone in the organization is on the lookout for opportunities for positive change. This means that everyone from the executive offices to the front lines needs to be empowered to speak up when they see something that could be done better. The most successful organizations provide a technology platform that makes it easy for everyone to capture opportunities from anywhere at any time. They encourage employees to think creatively and dare to innovate.

80% of the improvement potential in every organization resides in the front lines. Make sure yours are engaged in capturing their ideas.

Second Base: Implement Improvements

Once the ideas have been captured, it’s time to execute on the best opportunities. Once again, technology that provides notifications and alerts to accelerate the pace of improvement is helpful.  Incremental improvement will also happen faster and more effectively if the team is trained on improvement techniques such as the 5 whys, PDSA, and value stream mapping. Coaches also play a key role in terms of monitoring progress and removing roadblocks.

Third Base: Measure Improvement

Many organizations find themselves called out on this one. It is critical to focus on capturing and executing improvements, but without measuring the results, it is difficult to sustain momentum and justify continued investment in improvement work. Only with accurate reporting, can you prove the collective impact of incremental improvements.

Home: Share Knowledge

The best improvements are those that lead to even more improvement. By capturing and sharing tribal knowledge around improvement projects, you can grow from lessons learned and often apply something that worked in one area to others. As your information repository grows, your path to positive change becomes ever clearer.

You don’t have to yack one over the fences to score big in baseball or business. Ninety feet at a time will bring you home as well. Keep your eye on the ball and incrementally improve your way to success.

Employee engagement is critical to the success of incremental improvement. Download this free guide to learn how to get more players in the game.

The Savvy's Leader's Guide to Employee Engagement


Topics: Daily Improvement, Improvement Process

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