What’s worse than not doing Continuous Improvement?
Why bother in the first place?
Continuous improvement. How many times have you heard that term used in operational and strategic brainstorms, articles, interviews, conferences … probably enough times to make you want to be sick! Am I right?
Do these people that keep going on about it not know how busy I am …. how busy we are? Have they been in a cave during this whole global pandemic, we barely had time to consider doing this ‘stuff’ before the world starting imploding and they expect me … us, to have time now?!
Well as appealing sometimes as it may seem to be off the grid and in a cave somewhere, the answer is simply … yes! Now is the perfect time to pay some serious attention to continuous improvement and all it has to offer you and your teams and your business. The pressure is on!
Costs have to be minimized, productivity has to be maximized, we need to be able to keep things ticking over while the business and employees are in a commercial hibernation and when the shackles come off … everyone is going to be jumping up and down for all their orders NOW! The great recovery will be on! This will be where you will have a real chance to set yourself apart from your competitors. If you have paid attention to all the ways that you can improve your processes and increase the efficiency in being able to deliver what your customers want faster than your competitors, then that will be something that sets you apart and gives you the edge.
Mind the gap!
What gap? Where?
The one that is opening up between where you are today and where you COULD be! The threat of not unlocking all the potential your business has to improve is ever present unless you have a means to constantly challenge what you do in the business and how you do it. And like we said, now is the perfect storm for you to be doing this in.
In some recent analysis that we did with regards to more than 300 projects and their outcomes that we have undertaken for all of our customers we found that for every £1 pound that had invested in engaging us in their business, the resulting training and activities geared at continuous improvement yielded, conservatively, on average a £14 return in savings and improvements! Straight to the bottom line and improved business processes and activities.
It’s one thing saying you are too busy to undertake ‘improvement activities’ because some consultant says you should, but it is totally another thing to miss an opportunity to make your business more agile and responsive in this ever changing world around us. That is something that this pandemic has taught everyone, things change in a flash, risk is real and rest assured, this is not the last challenge that your business, or all of us for the matter, will face in the future
So the advice we have to offer is simple. Engage your teams, embrace the improvement opportunities and watch your performance evolve at pace to new levels.
It’s all about the follow through...
Undertaking a continuous improvement strategy after all we have just said? Well, if you undertake the necessary training to ensure all your staff know how to really build a continuous improvement environment, and then put all the tech and systems into place to let them come forward with ideas and suggestions, then the number one rule from there is to commit 100% to following through with the outcomes of this and giving people and teams the authority, space and time to ACTUALLY DO IT!
The only thing worse than not undertaking continuous improvement, is setting your business up to do it but ultimately only paying lip service to allowing the people to get out there and make it happen. Not only will it fail now, but it is unlikely your staff will ever trust you again in the future when you say “we really care about what you think we need to do to improve.”
Walk the talk!
So how do you convince people that they really can contribute to the success or even the survival of the business at this critical time, how will they know you are serious about continuous improvement and what it offers? All you have to do is walk the talk like you mean it! If you are a leader in the business, get in-front of your people, whether that is in online meetings or sessions, or walking the line and talking to people, albeit it at the correct social distancing, and tell them “I will back you to take the time you need to unearth areas of potential improvement and I will support any way I can to make those improvements a reality.”. Then actually to do it!
Continuous improvement is about commitment and discipline to follow through, to engage your staff to come up with the ideas and suggestions but then to actually get behind them and show that you are serious about. Because if you don’t and you put the time and effort in to start the process...not following through will actually do more harm than good.
And remember, continuous improvement is not about cutting costs! It’s about improvement, taking out waste from your processes and systems so that you can spend more time growing your business and adding value for your customers!
If you are committed to achieving business excellence, and found this article enjoyable and thought provoking, and if you’d like all future copies sent straight to your inbox or if you would like to join our Unleash Collaboration Zone on Microsoft Teams where you can share your experiences and thoughts in light of the current challenging situation, then please contact us.