What is Continuous Improvement?
Continual Improvement is the process of increasing the quality and services through incremental gains accompanied by occasional innovation.
(Kuratko and Hodgetts 2002, p.697)
To remain relevant in today’s market, organisation’s need to have processes and strategies in place to ensure that they stay in touch with the needs of their stakeholders and customers. Continual improvement is the process of increasing the quality and services through incremental gains and should not only be seen in the front of house, it should be encouraged in every level of the organisation.
There are three types of improvement illustrated in the graph below.
Gradual changes usually go unnoticed until reflection on how far an organisation has travelled over a particular period of time.
Incremental improvements consists of an improved parameter implemented at a given date to a pre-decided period and further improvement based on the same parameter after proper analysis of results of consistency. It is made up of a series of incremental changes.
Breakthroughs are improvements but in one giant leap – a step change. The method of achievement is the same but breakthroughs tend to arise out of chance discoveries and could take years before being made. These are considered the disrupters, those that change the current direction of a product/service or business. Business must be careful that the steep rise without a periodical analysis and lack of study of the effect of improvement on other elements of QM system like objectives, policy, complaints, quality etc., could be detrimental and counterintuitive to the improvement plan.
Figure 1: The three different types of improvement
Benefits of Continuous Improvement
The benefits of continuous improvement are wide and varied. Firstly, employing the ideas for improving process in the organisation that have been created by the team, makes the new processes practical and believable to employees. Secondly, once employees see their ideas being implemented, they will be more inclined to find new ways to improve other processes. Employees feel empowered by the new process and it will reinforce their commitment through better teamwork and higher motivational levels. This will all lead to greater productivity and a happier work environment. Finally, implementing continuous improvement will reduce efficiency waste and will encourage more ‘small wins’ by doing less. This will lead to lower costs, higher quality outcomes and ultimately improve organisational performance.
Which continuous improvement tool to use is dependent on the context of the organisation. As each organisation is unique, so will be the continuous improvement tools used. At Southpac, we teach a variety of tools to our participants including analysis, improvement measures, charts, diagrams root-cause analysis, as well as higher level transformational projects such as Kaizen events.
The Continuous Improvement Cycle:
The following diagram explains how ‘small wins’ on a continual basis in the organisation are achieved. The following steps in the continual improvement cycle, are simple to implement yet comprehensive in identifying and formulating action plans.
Top 6 Benefits Of Continuous Improvement:
- Increased teamwork, employee and operational performance (H.O.P);
- Conversations of mutual value through dialogic coaching and inquiry
- Reduces ‘waste’ (LEAN);
- Improve product/service quality;
- Improve stakeholder engagement and idea generation;
- Improve efficacy of workflow while reducing bottlenecks.
Tools Used For Continuous Improvement:
Root Cause and Analysis
- Data analysis | Pareto charts
- 5 whys | Ishikawa | Bowtie
Innovative thinking and Proactive change methodologies
- Safety II thinking (H.O.P)
- Appreciative inquiry and investigation
- Collaborative practices
- Think tanks
- Life cycle management
Continuous Improvement In The Workplace
Continuous improvement is usually considered a good thing. However, when continuous improvement in one area impacts negatively on another it may not be so good. To ensure that we are always moving forward consideration must be given to all areas of the organisation, and the environment that it operates within, to ensure change in one area does not impact negatively on another. This is true systems thinking.
Most of us face all kinds of improvement programs in our daily work that are specifically directed to improving the parts. We tend to focus on improving the metrics in one area without consideration for another. It is as if those metrics are the most important in terms of our work, but even more ignorant is focusing on them separately and not thinking on what the effects on the system are as a whole. Finding deficiencies and getting rid of them is not continuous improvement. Determine what you want, not what you don’t want.
Southpac International’s Systems for Continuous Improvement (SCI) course
Our course on systems for continual improvement encapsulates the most progressive and innovative thinking in continual improvement theories and methods. To remain current and fresh in this competitive market, it is important that business encourage their stakeholders and employees to invest their time and ideas into plan, acting, engaging and reporting on what systems work for each company requirements.
Our course is not going to teach you just the root-cause analysis program. Or even an understanding as to why campaigns or programs haven’t worked out the way it was imagined. Southpac International addresses a proactive change by addressing the crux of the crucial events in the organisation and dovetail these in dedicated programs.
Southpac International have built the Systems of Continuous Improvement course to interlink into Diploma programs we offer through our Southpac Aerospace sister company. If you’re interested in knowing more about these Diploma programs, please contact our office at [email protected].
What is a system?
Well according to Russell Ackoff, systems can be likened to the human body. The body is made up of many organs, flesh and matter that effects each other and will affect your behaviour. And, like the human body systems, business systems are inter-dependent of each other and will rely on one another. Another point is that each system is part of the whole and once taken a part it loses its interactions and therefore, its essential properties (Ackoff 1994).
The Southpac International Systems for Continual Improvement course content
- Learn how Continuous Improvement systems are vital for your industry;
- Engage with Continuous Improvement tools for real world context such as profitability improvement and cost reduction;
- Gain awareness of the Kaizen, PDCA Cycle, Root Cause Analysis, Data Analysis and other tools to assist your Continuous Improvement journey;
- Design your own plans to implement for continuous improvement;
- Learn how to think differently for new solutions;
- Engage with facilitators who have worked with 1,000’s of participants across a variety of industries including aviation, manufacturing, retail, construction to name a few.
Recognition of Training
- BSBMGT516 Facilitate continuous improvement
- BSBINN502 Build and sustain an innovative work environment
- BSBINM501 Manage an information or knowledge management system
- BSBSUS501 Develop workplace policy and procedures for sustainability
How Systems for Continuous Improvement can help your business
There are many reasons why implementing a culture of continuous improvement into your workplace will be beneficial. Here’s a short list below.
Shaking Things Up
When it comes to making changes to your business, there isn’t a more rigorous while rewarding endeavour than to implement a continuous improvement framework into your organisation. Keep ahead of the competitive pack, be productive by using tools and methods that encourage operational performance and reduce waste.
Make Continuous Improvement Implicit
Create a culture within your organisation that engrains continuous improvement into every aspect of the business. Systematic implementation of continuous improvement is obviously the best way to integrate systems into your organisation. However, there is still scope of change through administering a smaller range of tools:
- Create a language that is adopted across all departments so everyone has the same framework to operate by;
- Storytelling and surveying staff to encourage their understanding and opinion of work practices;
- Data analysis through charts and diagrams;
- Mindset change to challenge the status quo. Never accepting what is, and always looking for ways to improve and learn.
These are only a small suggestion of what tactics that can be applied. It is vital that your organisation just starts somewhere! Continuous improvement doesn’t have to be complicated or convoluted. Beginning the process is the hardest step of all!
What industries Systems for Continual Improvement course is suited for
While all industries would benefit from implementing continual improvement tools, there are specific industries that Southpac International has worked with to deliver visible results.
Our client list of companies from mining, manufacturing, retail, services and construction now have systems in place that will enhance and sustain continual improvement. Making teamwork, learning and innovation a positive and rewarding part of thier organisations. These companies employ continual improvement tools to nurture a culture of collaboration, innovation and sharing among employees and management collectively.
Who would benefit from attending a Systems for Continual Improvement course
Anyone can benefit from Continuous Improvement! Our experience shows that many levels of management and staff will develop from implementing the continuous improvement tools.
Managers, Team Leaders & Supervisors working in an operational or administrative environment or who are responsible for the day to day management of a team’s performance.
Lead & Internal Auditors looking to develop their team leadership knowledge and people performance management skills to optimise overall team performance.
Safety, Quality & Compliance Managers in an operational or administrative environment who are responsible for ensuring ongoing organisational & operational compliance is maintained, whilst mitigating existing operational risks.
Want to know more about our upcoming Systems for Continual Improvement courses? Click here for course dates.
For more information on the Southpac International Systems for Continual Improvement course, please contact in the usual ways: