We are lucky to have the chance to work with many companies looking for ways to deploy, enhance, and maintain a continuous improvement model for their organization. Many companies come to us with the same group of basic questions, so we thought it might help to share the answers to those we are asked most often.
What is the way of thinking behind continuous improvement?
The continuous improvement model is based on an idea called Kaizen. It is the philosophy of always looking for ways to improve operations and, therefore, results. Central to the approach is the belief that every part of an organization’s operations and processes can be improved and that the workers who are most closely involved are best positioned to identify opportunities for improvement.
Is the CI model only for companies that use a business structure like Six Sigma or Lean?
Although it is clearly an essential component of business methodologies like Six Sigma, Lean, TQM, and others, the continuous improvement model can be embraced on its own. To be useful, however, it must be consistently practiced organization-wide and have unwavering support from the executive team.
Who is responsible for improvement?
Ultimately, every person in the organization has a role to play in the continuous improvement model. Front line employees will be the ones to identify and implement opportunities for improvement, while managers and supervisors will support and reward employee improvement efforts. Executive teams will fund improvements and create a culture that values employee ideas and engagement. Some organizations find it helpful to have dedicated teams or individuals assigned to manage and report on improvement efforts. Still, they are improvement facilitators and not the primary source of improvement work and ideas.
How can my organization support improvement?
One of the critical things an organization can do to support continuous improvement is to deploy a software platform that supports this work. The solution should be designed to bring employees from all levels and parts of the organization together to identify and solve small and large problems alike. It creates a degree of transparency into improvement work and serves as the organization’s knowledge center for problem-solving. By offering workflow capabilities and alerts, the solution also facilitates positive change and gives momentum to improvement efforts.
What are the benefits of the continuous improvement model?
Organizations that successfully implement and maintain continuous improvement are rewarded with reduced costs, faster innovation, increased efficiency, high customer satisfaction scores, low employee turnover, and improved safety records. In truth, there are very few measures of operational excellence that can’t be positively impacted by a continuous improvement model.
How do you measure the impact of the CI model?
This is an important question because, without adequate measurement, it is difficult to spread and sustain the improvement mindset. Improvement work can be measured in several ways:
- Activity: What is happening
- Engagement: Who is working on improvement
- Impact: What are the results of implemented projects
Reporting and measurement is another area in which improvement software is beneficial. Leaders can get instant insight into these and other metrics that help guide decisions and justify further investment in improvement.
Hopefully, these FAQs have been useful. If you have more questions or would like to discuss your particular challenges and goals, feel free to reach out. It’s our favorite thing to talk about.