Continuous Improvement

When companies try “re-engineering” or try to adopt a whole new way of doing business, many times they fail. It can be too hard, people resist, and after a while it fizzles out. The 1990’s movement, “Total Quality Management”, is a classic example. It ended up being a bunch of banners with dust on them … even though the ideas were sound.

So, it’s best to think of Continuous Improvement as being one little thing every day. Paul Akers, author of 2 Second Lean says, “Every day fix one little thing that bugs you.” That’s continuous improvement.
When everyone in your organization or on your project fixes one little thing every day – and tells others what they did so everyone learns – the organization or project rapidly gets smarter, leaner, and more valuable by the power of compounding interest.
It starts at the top with the CEO, owner or Project Executive – who must visibly lead the charge and encourage everyone by example. And it extends all the way down through the organization or project from management and leadership to the person making $15 an hour. Because everyone wants their work to be easier. That’s Continuous Improvement. Make your own work easier. Less wasteful. More valuable.
Organizations who develop a Continuous Improvement culture increase their output and profit percentage automatically. Little bit by little bit, every day.
So how are CI cultures created? Leaders are a big part. What behaviors and values are they modeling and either implicitly or explicitly expecting of their subordinates?
By setting the expectation of continuous improvement and then recognizing those efforts and successes you’ll appeal to the “intrinsic motivators” inside each of your team members: the desire to please others, pride in craftsmanship, having a strong work ethic, a feeling of passion or of having a calling.
Set the expectation: everyone on the team or in the company (everyone!) will make some sort of improvement on a daily basis, even if it’s at home. It isn’t continuous if you don’t, right?
Then share success stories at your daily huddles or team meetings. Take quick cell phone videos and show the videos of before and after, if you have them. Showing people how easy it is will inspire others.
Then praise them! Even the small things represent a shift in thinking, towards improving and making things better. And a culture where everyone works daily to improve something is POWERFUL. And prepare to be surprised, because people will come up with far greater improvement ideas then you expect!

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