Skip to main content

Simplicity Is the Key to Effective Continuous Improvement


As businesses grow and develop they seem to get more complicated. More systems to operate, more people to serve, and more things to remember, all side effects of traditional success. If the business is in control then these systems will be documented and allow others to follow in their footsteps. The busyness and complexity however can put off the very people we need to get involved with our continuous improvement programmes and so simplicity needs to be sought when designing our continuous improvement approach.

When our approach to developing and implementing new ideas is simple we can see the changes taking place in our business. We don't have to wait for months or years to see something happen; we can experience it quickly, and sometimes immediately. When the process of making a suggestion through evaluation and into implementation is fast we can gain momentum from the people who give the suggestions. Complicated, centralised, improvement approaches kill this benefit. If possible keep you improvement activity local, sharing best practice as it evolves.

Complicated systems and ways of working can scare some members of staff. If the people you need to share their ideas are working at the lower levels of the business then we need to accommodate their level of experience with complicated systems of working. I'm not saying that only the senior levels of the hierarchy are capable of dealing with complexity, it's just that they are used to it and others have been spared this problem so far. If you want to engage all levels of the business with its own innovation then aim for simplicity in the way that you handle improvement suggestions.

Visibility is another key to effective continuous improvement approaches. We have already touched upon the need for speed, but being able to 'see' how the idea moves from suggestion to evaluation to pilot to roll out is important for most people who take part in continuous improvement activities. When an idea (that is considered to be perfectly good to the majority of people who have been exposed to it) stalls and goes nowhere it causes concern within the business. Eventually it can lead to apathy and people not bothering to share their ideas, insights and innovations because 'what's the point?' Like the clear Perspex side of a machine where you can see the parts moving, the process that ideas flow through within your own continuous improvement system needs to be visible and logical.

In summarising this short article I think the keyword for successful continuous improvement programmes is 'engagement'. We need the people in our businesses, the people who know what is wrong and what the opportunities are, to engage with the process. Whatever approach we take to eliciting improvement ideas, developing them and creating a new and more productive way of working for our business we need it to be fast, simple and visible.

Giles Johnston is the author of a short guide to implementing effective continuous improvement processes. It is available from Amazon for the Kindle App / reading device; http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007U78ISW

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Giles_G_Johnston



Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7387994



Popular posts from this blog

Stop firefighting, start performing!

Another weeks passes and another example of unnecessary fire fighting demonstrated by a business I have been to help. If you have this taking place in your business, let me ask you a few questions: 1. What keeps on happening? Regain control with this practical book Can you pin down what it is that you keep having to do, to get out of trouble? If you can't, is there a pattern you can observe? 2. Do you want it to stop? Is it causing you enough of a problem that you want it to stop? If the answer is yes, keep reading, if not park it for another day. 3. Find out what is going on Do you know why you are having this issue? If you aren't sure where the issue is arising from, then take a few minutes to have a look around. When you have some idea, go to the next step. 4. Cause and effect Do you know what is truly causing the fire fighting situation? If you spend the time to get to the root cause of the situation , you have a good chance of permanently eliminating this situation. Most p

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and

Are your teams clear?

I have recently finished working with a team that were struggling. They were struggling to meet their production schedules. They were struggling to respond to customer enquiries on time. They were burnt out and frazzled. After some prodding and poking it became clear what their issues were. In particular, it became obvious that expectations of the team weren't clear or defined. Defining what you expect from teams is a standard management approach. The problem with most teams is that leadership describe the standards in vague terms . So, what happens if you get the standards crystal clear? You should expect to see the team produce the right outputs. They should produce the outputs at the right time. And, they should produce them in an agreed way. Be clear with your teams. Ask the question: What does good look like? If you want to get some more ideas on how to define effective standards and visions, get your copy of my book today . What does good look like? is a practical guide to h