We come across the term “Continuous Improvement” numerous times these days, and there are lots of interpretations of the concept of CI. Most of these interpretations are missing the point somewhere down the line and focusing upon the execution of a bunch of improvement projects. It does provide us with a good, rewarding starting point. We need to look beyond this in order to sustain the culture of CI over longer periods. Let us have a look at how to create and hence sustain the CI in an organization.
Three core principles to maintain for CI sustainability
Understanding the basic concept of CI
Many organizations have successfully instilled the concept of CI and applied it throughout its ranks. The enterprises that have failed in achieving the same goal are all stuck at different levels. The most primary aspect that needs understanding is the core concept of CI. People misinterpret it as a one-time operation that after implementation, needs not be given further attention. This false premise leads to the subsequent failure of the culture altogether. The leadership needs to take strong initiatives in ensuring that the entire organization is on the same page with this concept so that the culture can be created and further sustained among them.
Behavioural changes at all levels
Once the basic understanding is established, the action needs to commence. It can start with simple work ethics such as instilling CI-based behavioural changes across managers at all levels of the organization. The managers will then take responsibility for instilling these changes across their sectors. When we talk about behavioural changes, we are referring to simple changes in everyday task implementation. For instance, instead of sitting with the team once a month and taking all monthly updates, they need to have short meetings every day or week and settle all discussions and move ahead. On a personal level, these behavioural changes need to achieve fruition so that the foundation of CI can be laid properly.
Ask for ideas of improvement from all levels and acknowledge them.
Again this aspect falls heavily on the leadership side of the organization. Process improvement relies on ideas that lead to the betterment of the overall procedure and boosts production. Now the top-level management does not get their hands in operating the project. They are the lower-level workers and associates that have first-hand knowledge of it. Hence, they are more likely to come up with improvement ideas than management personnel. If these ideas are not given a proper forum to be laid upon and emphasized and the organization fails to acknowledge them, then the associates will lose motivation and stop thinking about improvement entirely. This needs to be avoided by proper arrangement of ideation forums where employees will be given the right platform to showcase their ideas and discuss its viability.
CI is not a business plan but a way of thinking and acting upon. Organizations and individuals need to understand that and proactively work upon it to gain rewards in the long run.