We talk to lots of people who are devoted to one of the popular continuous improvement methodologies in use by businesses today. Many of our customers are devotees of Lean, Six Sigma, Toyota Production System, Total Quality Management, Agile, or others. People who know we provide technology that supports all of them often ask us which is the best continuous improvement methodology. Well, like a lot of things in life, it depends.
Every organization is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all perfect approach. The key is finding the right combination for your current circumstances. So, while we can’t tell you which methodologies you should choose, we can tell you what it looks like when an organization has found the right combination.
When the perfect continuous improvement methodology is in place, organizations:
Experience Sustained Improvement
It is not uncommon for improvement programs to start off with a bang, only to fizzle out over time. This is often the result of lack of investment and commitment on the part of leadership, not flaws in the methodology. The perfect continuous improvement method for your organization is one that the entire team can get behind and commit to over the long term.
Enjoy Company-Wide Adoption
Because the goal of continuous improvement is to create an uninterrupted flow of value to the customer across the entire organization, it is essential that the tools and techniques used to support improvement are adopted by everyone. It may make sense to start with one department or division, but structured improvement shouldn’t be contained to any particular silo.
Achieve Measurable Impact
All of the popular CI methodologies involve creating a baseline, applying improvements, and measuring impact. The last item is crucial to keeping employees and executives engaged and energized around improvement efforts. Documenting the impact of improvement work is the only way to justify both financial and emotional investment.
Collaborate and Communicate Effectively
Continuous improvement is a team sport and communication is the foundation for effective collaboration. The perfect improvement methodology creates a common language and a structured way to share information. It also ensures that improvement work is aligned to strategic goals and business objectives.
Lean, Six Sigma, and all of the other continuous improvement methodologies are designed to make improvement systematic, long-lasting, and efficient. They can all be successful under the right circumstances. In order to choose the best one for your organization, start with these goals in mind.