[ReBlog] Continuous Improvement Myths

BLOG BY: Jeff Roussel (Find him on Twitter

The source and writer's CI Webinar: Click here

1 - It's only for manufacturing companies
While it is true that the idea of continuous improvement is often associated with the Japanese auto makers, including Toyota, who pioneered a systematic approach to quality assurance and business process improvement, the concept is being used today in organizations of all types. After all, what type of company can't improve? We've seen continuous improvement initiatives have tremendous benefits for health care organizations, software companies, not-for-profit organizations, and almost every other type of business.

2 - It requires a business process methodology like Six Sigma

There are many popular business process methodologies that add a level of structure and a common language to continuous improvement. Six Sigma, Lean and Total Quality Management (TQM) are a few. However, it is not necessary to embrace one of them to benefit from continuous improvement. Structure is certainly necessary, but it can be achieved with or without another named business methodology.

3 - You have to form a committee

Some organizations do appoint specific people to oversee their continuous improvement efforts on either a full or part time basis. This can often help accelerate improvement, but it is not essential.

4 - It's the committee's job

As a corollary to #3, even if you do form a committee, continuous improvement should be the responsibility of every single employee and leader, starting with the executive team and cascading down through the organization to all front-line employees. The people who work most closely with your customers, prospects and products are in the best position to recognize opportunities for improvement, especially small ones. The committee, should you choose to have one, can train people, offer support, and help clear obstacles, but continuous improvement is an all-in game.

5 - It can be managed with spreadsheets and shared drives

Not really. In order to be effective, the technology you choose to support your continuous improvement efforts should be designed for the purpose. It should be easily accessible for everyone, from everywhere. It should have features that makegathering ideas for improvement, acting upon them and reporting the results easy and efficient.

6 - It costs a fortune

There may be some investment required in improvement, but it is usually far offset by the cost savings, quality improvement and additional revenue it generates. We believe that every improvement effort should result in a demonstrable impact, whether quantifable (in financial terms or time savings) or qualitative (like safety, satisfaction, or quality improvements).

7 - Employees hate it

This one is actually only partly a myth. Employees do hate it when management introduces a new initiative that's going to change the company, only to forget about it in a couple of weeks, or fail to provide employees with the resources necessary to make it successful. But here's the thing - employees love the opportunity to enact positive change. They love the trust and autonomy that comes from being asked to help identify ways to increase customer value and decrease costs. Successful continuous improvement efforts actually result in more engaged and personally invested employees.

Like most myths, these didn't spring out of thin air. Some have an element of truth to them, while others are based primarily on the experiences of businesses that failed to truly adopt the core principles of the approach. Don't let them keep you and your team from enjoying the benefits of a more efficient, customer-focused and collaborative organization.
 
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