An organisation is only as effective as the people and the processes driving it forward. More so than ever before, sustainable growth requires a strong workplace culture, efficient processes, and a blueprint from which the whole company can operate. A long-established way of achieving this is by implementing a Continuous Improvement (CI) programme.
What is a CI programme? How are CI programmes advantageous and in which ways could your organisation benefit from implementing one?
What is Continuous Improvement?
Grounded firmly in well-established principles, models and methodologies, CI programmes play a vital role in helping businesses, from a variety of key industries, to incrementally transform and grow. In this week's article, discover the advantages of implementing a Continuous Improvement programme and how your business could benefit.
As its name suggests, Continuous Improvement is a journey – an ongoing process that requires a structured and committed approach in 4 key areas:
- Leadership: a company’s leaders must be committed to the programme, willing to learn and create a stronger organisation for the long run.
- Tools: CI tools generally include WCM (World Class Manufacturing), TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), Lean, Six Sigma, or an intelligent blend of each.
- Roadmap: this acts as a blueprint – painting a picture of where the company is going and illustrating the steps that will be taken to get there.
- Culture: developing the appropriate organisational behaviours will ensure a cohesive, fully-functioning team of autonomous problem solvers.
Related read: The 4 Key Components of a Successful Continuous Improvement Programme
CI success starts at the top but it involves everybody in the organisation. The most successful CI programmes constantly force us to ask:
- How can we do things easier, faster, better?
- What will this change achieve?
- Are there processes for change across all areas of the organisation?
- Could we benefit from additional or particular training?
- Are there current overarching issues that need to be addressed?
- How can we advance recognition of those who contribute to positive change?
- Are our KPIs and goals aligned and up to date?
- How can we foster and manage cultural change for the long term?
At its core, Continuous Improvement means improving the people, processes, and the business, all under one umbrella, to ensure company-wide efficiency. In doing so, people have greater visibility and understanding — we’re all working towards an overall goal, together, rather than seeing a multitude of disjointed initiatives and processes.
Read on to explore the key advantages of a Continuous Improvement programme.
6 Key Benefits of Implementing a Continuous Improvement Programme in Your Business
- Empowered people: giving employees the resources, environment, and autonomy they need to work well and own the processes that they deal with in the general working day will ignite an autonomous workforce. This accountability empowers people and gives them confidence and the drive to make positive contributions. When offered training, collaborative working, recognition, and rewards, people will feel further empowered. This works to create a shared sense of fulfilment.
- Enhanced processes: by reducing waste and operational costs, we can do more with less, working smarter not harder. The primary purpose of CI is to eradicate losses by identifying integral inefficiencies and weak or poor processes within an organisation. Of course, it’s common for people to question why a process isn’t delivering as well as it should be. Digging deep, identifying the primary issue and designing a logical resolution is the only way to achieve successful, proactive and productive processes.
- Staff loyalty: If employees feel appreciated, empowered, and that they can work towards a common goal, they are less likely to leave and more likely to function autonomously with the appropriate cultural behaviours. Organisations that empower their employees with a purpose and prioritise inclusiveness see a boost in engagement, increased staff retention and reduced turnover rates.
- Competitive advantage: maintaining customer satisfaction, keeping your employees happy and enhancing processes are ways to create a competitive market advantage. That means you can develop new offerings ahead of the competition, and steal early market share, creating loyal customers – or even brand advocates.
- Long-term growth: every business wants to provide services or products that customers value in order to have a successful brand. But to succeed in that growth, you need to improve both the people and processes. Only then can you deliver real results. Once an organisation adopts Continuous Improvement, it commits to longevity. By incessantly ensuring leadership buy-in, utilising CI tools, revisiting your roadmap, and rewarding behaviours that promote positive cultural change, you will discover that your business grows continually.
- Cohesive bond: many organisations have lots of initiatives that are implemented and never maintained, revisited or that compete with each other. CI brings all of your methods and actions together under one umbrella and allows you to focus on just one thing — a single Continuous Improvement programme, rather than a series of disparate schemes and projects. It’s a cohesive bond that unites your people and processes to achieve a common business goal.
It’s important to remember that, generally speaking, people don’t like uncertainty. A successful CI programme considers this from day one, utilising careful planning, resource allocation, and open communication channels to help manage the team’s expectations and realise the programme’s advantages. As a result, everyone across the organisation will be able to unlock its benefits.
Related read: Radically Improving Your Performance Within a Continuous Improvement Environment: 7-Step Process
Could your organisation benefit from a Continuous Improvement programme?
Continuous Improvement is not a project. If implemented properly, it functions as an organisation’s way of life. CI programmes must, therefore, be part of a business strategy, not just a bolt-on extra, and become the enabler of positive change.
Through CI, you can enhance the capabilities, commitment, and employee culture to develop efficient processes, attract new customers, retain existing ones, and ultimately grow your business.
Do you want to learn more? Download this free eBook to discover how to design a world class CI programme that transforms performance.