Building a culture of continual improvement is not just about executing several improvement projects. It is much more beyond implementation. It requires to drive sustainability and embed the culture of continual improvement over time in the organization’s genes. This whole process is guided by some core principles:
Improvements can be small changes, they need not be big innovations
The concept is important because large changes are difficult to accept and there is a lot of resistance from the team. By approaching small or incremental changes leaders can reduce the resistance and increase the speed of implementation and improvement.
Value employee ideas
The success of continual improvement projects depends largely on the employees. Leaders need to follow bottom up approach in this case as the employees are the closest to the problems or issues and thus better trained to solve the problems. Employee empowerment is equally important in this case. Leaders can ask employees what can be done to solve the problems and then empower them to implement small changes to for improvement. In this way small ideas can create bigger impacts in the organization. In this process leaders should not shy away from employee complaints. Good leaders give opportunity to the teams to complaint and work upon the solution to the problems with small improvement projects.
Incremental improvements are not expensive
Employees work on projects that help to improve processes with the small changes. These small changes can mean eliminating non-value adding processes thus reducing waste and adding more value to the customer. So, these small improvement projects will not only be inexpensive, it has huge impact on the bottom line.
Employee ownership and involvement
By empowering your teams allow them to take charge of their own work. Let the change originate from them. When ideas come from them people will work more efficiently as they see value in the suggestions made by them. This will improve employee involvement and thus deliver better and faster results and increase the chance of success and sustenance.
Continuous feedback mechanism
Continuous feedback mechanism is must for organizations working on continual improvement projects. It might be an issue in traditional organizations, where coaches do not have the visibility they need to keep up with everyone doing the improvement work, senior leaders can’t engage without a major time commitment, meetings are tough to schedule, and communication gets lost in inboxes.
Organizations with modern culture allow senior leaders to follow the improvement initiatives and get 360-degree feedback.
Improvements should be measured
Every change implemented should be measured. The impact of the change should be quantifiable. This makes it easy to understand if the change or the solution can be applied to other problems. Positive return on investments should be there and it will help the organization to grow and be more profitable.
Making continuous improvement part of the organization’s culture is an excellent and cost effective approach to managing the organization’s most difficult challenges.
Written & Compiled by Faber Mayuri