Continuous improvement can hugely benefit businesses, offering them a way to stay ahead of the curve and achieve yearly goals. But while there’s no doubting the importance of improving your processes and business activities, it’s easy for these practices to fall off the radar over time. Without consistent follow-through, continuous improvement isn’t constant– and you’re unlikely to improve at the rate you’d like.
How can businesses work on freeing time to prioritize continuous improvement? Here are just a few ideas you could use to ensure constant improvement remains at the top of the to-do list:
Set expectations from the top down
Without the support of management and top leadership, continuous improvement can never be successful. It requires the people’s buy-in at the top of a business to be functional and practical. Individuals in management positions should set aside their own time for improvement and require that their staff do the same. By establishing that expectation, it’s far more likely that updates and fixes will be implemented.
Provide dedicated time for improvement
Improvement takes time, which can be challenging to carve out of a busy schedule. Budgeting specific time for advancement into the working day is ideal to ensure it doesn’t slip through the cracks. Whether that means dividing responsibilities or bringing in an additional hire, finding dedicated space for improvement can ensure it doesn’t fall lower down the priority list than other day-to-day tasks.
Encourage participation from all areas of the process.
Sharing the workload is invaluable to many business operations and processes. Continuous improvement is no exception; it can be valuable to gain different perspectives and insights into processes and workflows. Encourage participation from experts and specialists during improvement reviews and analysis to break down the work into smaller pieces. This enables continuous improvement to be prioritized even when the primary manager or source cannot provide their full attention.
Ensure fixes and ideas aren’t forgotten or pushed back
Half the work of continuous improvement is identifying problems and mapping out processes. The other significant component is the implementation of the changes and fixes that provide that all-important improvement. It’s easy for enhancements to be forgotten, prototypes to remain unimplemented, and ideas to never be put into writing. Put as much emphasis on the final stages of improvement as the early ones, and you’ll be able to achieve results that benefit the company.
Step back and look at the bigger picture
Seeing the bigger picture can be challenging if you’re stuck looking at the little details. For progress to be successful, strategy and planning are needed. Regarding prioritizing continuous improvement, taking the time to look at the whole workflow process from an outside perspective can be invaluable. Take a step back from the spiral of day-to-day responsibilities, and you may find it far easier to make continuous improvement work for you.
By Ellis Bledsoe, Principal Owner ECB Solutions, LLC