This is a one-question test:
How often have you said, or heard someone ask, “This stuff isn’t rocket science so how do we manage to mess it up so often?"
The answer lies somewhere in the murky depths of continual improvement.
1. Recognition that something can be improved
2. Analysis of errors and potential improvements
3. Testing potential improvements
4. Implementation of improvements
5. Monitoring improvements
6. Asking and determining whether past improvements can be improved
The Continual Improvement mindset starts with the belief everything in a business can be improved and then identifying improvements to be made in a prioritized manner. High priority items will have a greater immediate payback for the effort.
Questions to ask in seeking Continual Improvement projects:
• What errors do we make that require expensive makeovers?
• Where do our competitors have an advantage over us?
• What causes our customers to complain?
• What causes staff turnover?
Unless your company is perfect (and we all know the answer to that), you will have to prioritize improvement projects and budget time to overcome the imperfections in an organized manner. But improvement is only part of the story here. The rest of it is making improvement continuous.
Realize the world keeps changing. Today’s improvement will be outmoded tomorrow. New errors crop up or new technology supplants the old. As sales increase, capacity to produce decreases, which causes stresses in production and administrative processes, and the supply chain so improvements need to be made constantly.
You can either wait until something breaks causing chaos or to look at every component on a scheduled basis.
Whenever you make an improvement schedule a review of it at a future date. Depending on the nature of the improvement, that future date can be anywhere from a few months to a year or more. At that time ask whether it is at optimum or whether it needs to be updated or improved again..
Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Take Galler’s free vision assessment to see whether your company’s vision might need to be updated. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Vision” in the subject line.