Improvement doesn’t have to mean embarking on a big project of change. Even simple steps can have an impact.
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When assisting with Continuous Improvement implementations, we often find that our clients struggle to get started and gain momentum, simply because they are unsure of what constitutes an improvement.
This is the result of a common misconception that improvements have to be big projects that take up a lot of time and are capital intensive.
The reality is that improvements do not have to be big, very time consuming or capital intensive.
Any action, no matter how small, that successfully reduces the investment of time, energy and effort (input), while resulting in the same output (or increases the output), constitutes an improvement.
Related: The ultimate test for your company culture
This means that moving the printer two steps closer to your desk, is an improvement, because you have reduced the input by two steps while still achieving the same output. Similarly, changing the printer settings to by default print two pages per page or back and front, constitutes an improvement, because you have reduced the number of pages used (and paid for) while still achieving the same output.
Both of these examples are things that can be done very quickly and doesn’t involve any capital outlay at all.
Simple steps that you can take right now
Step 1: What is improvement
The first step then to embed a Continuous Improvement culture is to clarify what constitutes an improvement. We find that it often helps to share some practical ideas to help people get started.
Step 2: A healthy habit
Your second step is to make sure that implementing improvements become a new healthy habit, by encouraging everyone in the organisation to implement at least two improvements every single week.
It is important that employees provide feedback on what was improved and quantify the improvements (how much time or money did it save). This establishes ownership and a bit of peer pressure (because you have to be able to report on something) and it creates visibility so that supervisors are well informed of why, for example, a printer has been moved.
Related: Gil Oved from The Creative Counsel on fostering culture
Step 3: Review
Thirdly, and this is a very important step too often neglected, is to make sure that you have included a process whereby the improvement you have implemented is reviewed post implementation to assess if expectations were indeed met and to share it with others.
In the event that it has yielded unexpected and undesirable results, this is the opportunity to tweak what was implemented. Just imagine what your organisation would be able to achieve if every single employee actively participates in implementing two improvements every single week, throughout an entire year.