What is Continuous Improvement?
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 quality and services through incremental gains – allowing organisations to benefit from long-term advancements over short term gains.
Gradual changes usually go unnoticed until reflection on how far an organisation has travelled over a particular period of time.
Incremental improvements consist 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 defined by one giant leap – also known as a step change. The method of achievement is the same, but breakthroughs tend to arise out of chance discoveries and can take years before being made. These are considered the disrupters – those that change the current direction of a product, service or business. Businesses must be careful that the steep rise without periodical analysis – and lack of study of the effect on other elements of a Quality Management System like objectives, policies and complaints – could be detrimental and counterintuitive to the overall improvement plan.
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 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.
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Which industries should be implementing Continual Improvement?
While all industries would benefit from implementing continual improvement tools, there are specific industries that Southpac International has worked with to deliver visible results.
From mining, manufacturing and construction to retail and services, our clients now have systems in place that will enhance and sustain continual improvement – making teamwork, learning and innovation a positive and rewarding part of their organisations. These companies employ continual improvement tools to nurture a culture of collaboration, innovation and sharing among employees and management collectively.
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 Continual Improvement Course
Our course on Systems for Continual Improvement encapsulates the most progressive and innovative thinking in continuous improvement theories and methods. To remain current and fresh in this competitive market, it is important that businesses encourage their stakeholders and employees to invest their time and ideas into planning, acting, engaging and reporting on what systems work for each of the 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 proactive change by addressing the crux of the crucial events in the organisation and dovetailing these in dedicated programs.