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Three ways to take the sting out of continual improvement

Continual improvement only happens when you actually do something.

So, why do we generally spend so much time talking about change rather than doing something about it?

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Whilst there are a whole range of reasons as to why we opt for debate rather than action, most of them boil down to people being afraid of change itself. With that in mind, here are three quick and simple ways to get change to start taking effect if it has stalled in your business.

Use experiments

Remember when you were at school and you performed experiments? You didn’t know what the outcome was going to be and that was OK. When we undertake continual improvement activities it is highly likely that we don’t exactly know the right formula for a successful change.

So, we can use the same idea (it is an experiment) and learn from our results. We don’t have to be iron cast with our changes and by sharing this lack of expectation with our team can help to do just the same thing.

Have a go, see what the results are and then decide what to do next.

Harness the Kaizen approach

Having too much ‘other stuff’ on your plate at work (such as your job!) is another reason why we don’t move from talking to doing. The Kaizen principle encourages us to break tasks down into small, bite size, chunks and nibble our way to success.

The act of dealing with a few small chunks is psychologically easier than trying to deal with a huge project and this allows our natural momentum to come to the fore. Most people use this approach to get projects started and build confidence amongst their team and you can get the same results too.

So, if in doubt, go smaller with your change steps until progress starts.

With friends

The last point I want to share with you in this post is the idea of undertaking change with friends (or, at least colleagues that you get along with!).

Sharing issues and challenges with a work colleague can do wonders to get projects moving, keeping each other accountable and helping each other out if you get stuck.

Many of us keep our challenges and frustrations to ourselves and a constructive working relationship with a colleague can make a big difference if we feel this way.

So, find a friend, share your improvement challenges and come up with an effective working relationship that makes change happen.

PDCA

These are just three ideas on how to move from talking to doing. If you subscribe to the PDCA approach (Plan – Do – Check – Act) you will know the importance of testing ideas, using small steps and teamwork to get change to happen and stick.

If you would like discover some simple and effective methods to generate continual improvement ideas, and ways to put them into practice for your business, then check out my book Effective Continuous Improvement. It is available for Kindle, via iBooks and paperback.

All the best,

Giles



About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

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