Lean Six-Sigma, TQM and Process Improvement will create efficiencies and reduce cycle time, of that there is no doubt.
But these improvement programs are not sustainable, if they are temporary surges in cost reduction and in the absence of a whole systems perspective create downstream costs and hidden costs due to regrettable losses of mission-critical talent and employee engagement issues for those who are not involved directly in the improvement teams.
The change needs to pull together the whole system or it will be a short term illusion.
The employees roll their eyes, shrug their shoulders and mutter about how nothing ever comes of this fruitless exercise.
Ah yes......it must be time for the annual employee survey. That default ritual by which many organizations assume they are measuring and improving the business.
But is this long-standing practice now redundant and does it need to be put out to pasture?
For businesses today, the requirement to be able to change is integral. Continuous Improvement (CI) can be a means of ensuring your organisation is keeping up-to-date with the world around them. Although the challenges are numerous, CI can be successful if organisations consider the following 4 recommendations:
To remain competitive in the modern era, staying still and simply functioning is practically prehistoric. Businesses must be efficient and ahead of the curve, which can be done in a number of ways, one of which is through implementing a culture of Continuous Improvement (CI). Firms are competitive, not by their product/service, location or process, but by what it knows about how it behaves in various situations and understanding how to improve the efficiency of this behaviour. CI provides this knowledge and allows an organisation to constantly act on this knowledge.
Recently I was asked to speak at a leadership event for representatives from all over NHS Scotland, to share some examples of what we had experienced as the critical success factors for delivering improvements in organisations, to ensure lasting results.
Upon reflection, it certainly felt that the 10 factors to deliver sustainable improvements, had a lot of resonance with the challenges and the opportunities the NHS faces at 70.
A FTSE 250 company we worked with, was passionate about developing a culture of continuous improvement. People from every level of the organization had ideas on how to improve their Customer’s experience and understood the issues which made processes ineffective and inefficient. Equally, there was a common belief that previous attempts at driving improvement have been very “hit and miss”. Review of the data confirmed that they were right – most of the improvements attempted had either not been successful or had not been sustained.
Building an environment for success
Digital transformation is a buzzword that has increasingly been doing the rounds in business circles. The reality is that almost every true business ‘transformation’ taking place at the moment involves a large amount of digitising a process or stored information. If you’ve still got stacks of paper in filing cabinets, it’s guaranteed you’re not far off from a digital transformation.
The need for culture change
Three misconceptions and one key tip.
No industry is immune to disruption. Are your competitors doing an "Uber"? Are the likes of Amazon, Apple or Google moving in on your territory in Finance, Telecoms, Transportation or Home accessories? And how about those AI's that are replacing accountants, lawyers and doctors?