What will happen if an organisation continues to do things the way it has always been doing? What happens if it doesn’t look for opportunities to innovate and increase efficiency? What happens when it doesn’t prioritise continuous improvement?
Quite evidently, the organisation risks falling behind the competitors and becoming stagnant. Building a culture of continuous improvement is not just an option; it’s a necessity for success.
Industry reports also demonstrate the importance of continuous improvement. In a survey conducted by Deloitte, 96% of executives said that they believe continuous improvement is essential to their organisation’s success. On similar lines, a study conducted by ASQ found that 91% of organisations with a continuous improvement culture report increased customer satisfaction.
However, creating a continuous improvement mindset is easier said than done. Continuous improvement is not a one-off project and requires ongoing effort and dedication to constantly look for ways to improve and make incremental changes over time. A lot depends on the leader’s commitment and efforts towards driving improvement.
Importance of Leadership Mindset for Continuous improvement
Leadership is at the heart of any continuous improvement project, as it requires dedication and focus. Take the example of any organisation deeply committed to continuous improvement, they have a dedicated Continuous Improvement Leader driving the project from the helm. Some of the ways a leader fosters a culture of continuous improvement are:
- Empowering everyone in the organisation to identify areas for improvement and suggest solutions
- Aligning improvement efforts with business goals
- Defining the vision
- Providing resources
- Monitoring Success
6 points to assess your Continuous improvement initiative
As a continuous improvement leader, asking yourself if you’re leading your project in the right direction is important. Are you making the most of the resources available to you? Are you focusing on the right areas for improvement?
Assess if you have laid the foundation of sustainable continuous improvement efforts by considering the below points:
1.Defined vision and success metrics: Have you defined the vision and objective of the continuous improvement project (productivity improvement, customer satisfaction, cost improvement, etc.)? Defining these objectives and communicating them to the team is vital to ensure all the improvement efforts are aligned and prevent departmental silos. You must also specify the short-term and long-term goals against each of the objectives to monitor progress.
2. Established methodology and governance model: Have you defined the methodology and standards for process mapping and documentation to keep quality in check? Have you put together a central team to govern process mapping initiatives? To ensure the integrity and quality of continuous improvement initiatives, the focus must be on common language and terminologies for process documentation. Hence, a centralised team needs to be put together to check the consistency.
3. Allocated resources: Have you assigned the right resources to drive the continuous improvement project? Have you put together your continuous improvement team? Your team needs individuals with a combination of process modelling, analytical, change management, financial, technical and project management skills. If you notice a skill-set gap, addressing that with training or hiring the relevant resource is essential.
4.Prioritised Improvements: Have you identified the priority processes that will deliver the maximum benefits upon improvement? It’s important to identify processes that need urgent attention to get the desired result from your improvement project in the shortest possible time. High-frequency, high-customer-touch, and highly manual processes with a huge number of touchpoints present the most significant opportunity for improvement.
5.Empowered and engaged the team: Have you ensured the right stakeholder engagement and established a mechanism to suggest process changes and feedback in real-time? Have you empowered the team and identified the roles and responsibilities to drive ownership? Providing a platform to share suggestions and feedback is integral to ensuring incremental process changes. Also, the team needs to feel driven and connected to the goal of continuous improvement.
6.Celebrating success and recognising contribution: Are you providing regular feedback to the team and recognising contributions? Celebrating successes along the way and rewarding achievements helps to maintain motivation and engagement. Recognising accomplishments and milestones reinforces the importance of continuous improvement as an ongoing process.
Maximise the Value of Continuous Improvement
By assessing these points and identifying gaps, you can lay the foundation for a sustainable continuous improvement project. Determining the appropriate toolset is essential in establishing a continuous improvement culture.
One tool that is designed with continuous improvement in mind is PRIME BPM, which comes with an inbuilt methodology combining the power of disciplines—Lean, Six Sigma and BPM. It helps you quickly and easily map, analyse, improve and monitor your business processes.
Designed for both business users and process experts, it helps ensure continuous improvement efforts are aligned with organisational objectives. PRIME BPM comes with many functionalities to help you lead your continuous improvement project, from one-click process prioritisation to an in-built analytics engine for insights and a RACI matrix to define roles and responsibilities.
PRIME BPM has helped many leading organisations establish a continuous improvement culture, check out some success stories.