Organizations that are intentional about excellence and are customer-centric are always looking for ways to improve themselves. The business world is a competitive one and so to remain at the cutting edge, you have to look for ways to improve your products and services. Adopting a Continuous improvement mindset is the key to ensuring you are not left behind by your competitor.
A continuous improvement process is an on-going effort to improve the products, services and processes of an organization. It is based on the belief that these incremental changes will add up to major improvements over time. The delivery of those processes is in constant evaluation and change, so further improvements can be developed and applied. The ruler to measure these changes is the efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility of these processes.
Some see continuous improvement as a meta-process, such as W. Edwards Deming, an early proponent, who saw it as part of a larger system of organizational goals. But a bigger definition considers continuous improvement as a gradual and never-ending process that tries to increase effectiveness and efficiencies to fulfill a company’s objectives.
For an organization looking to save time and cost, and still keep up the quality of the product, then a continuous improvement business strategy is a good way to manage that difficult balancing act. By looking for opportunities to improve business and then evaluating those changes, an effective strategy is formed.
The importance of having such a strategy in place cannot be overemphasized as they further show your commitment to excellence as an organization. First, by constantly looking for ways to improve things, what happens is a reduction in operating overhead. That’s a good thing! It streamlines workflows and that saves time and money.
It also aids flexibility among your workforce. Since they are always on the lookout for ways to improve, they are changing to take advantage of opportunities. This constant movement, if it’s channeled to a well-thought out process, will reduce complacency among team members and threats from the competition.
By and large, the benefit is in the name, continuous improvement, which is very clear.
How you ensure this is your organization’s reality also matters.
Continuous improvement isn’t about setting a high pace. It is about finding a rhythm that works for your organization, it’s about changing everyone’s mindset to a systematic way of finding better ways to do things, to find out how to work better as a team.
Create an open and ongoing dialogue around atmosphere in your organization. An ongoing dialogue where everyone shares their finding will help your team to learn from others mistakes and wins. This way you can improve your effectiveness and productivity to meet both internal and external needs.
Finally, make intentional efforts to understand what motivates your employees and DO it. A motivated staff will dramatically smooth the process of continuous improvements.
Succinctly, “being better than we were yesterday” is a nice goal for an organization, and definitely for one that is pursuing excellence. Is your organization one of such?
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