Continuous Improvement and Continuously Improving

Recently our monthly theme was Continuous Improvement and I have been thinking about that terminology, our process for implementing in organizations, the results we have seen over the years and why it works and why it doesn’t. You will often hear:

“It starts at the top” yes, I would say that is true.
“It is a mindset”, yes I would say that is true.
“It requires discipline” yes, I would say that is true.
“It requires the right involvement” yes, I would say that is true.

I could go on listing things that it requires to have “continuous improvement”. Continuous Improvement as defined in wikipedia is an ongoing effort to improve, products, services, or processes. Institute of Quality Assurance defines it as a gradual never-ending change which is…focused on increasing the effectiveness and/or efficiency of an organization to fulfill its policy and objectives. It can be applied to any process, is not limited to CI or CIP or quality initiatives. Put simply, it means getting better all the time.

What does it all really boil down to, because you can continuously improve as an individual, a team or an organization or not? You can haphazardly get some learning of course or you can:

  1. Have the desire to learn and desire to instill that in others. You “gotta wanna” as they say.
  2. Have a process and framework and the discipline to follow it whether convenient or not.
  3. Have a mechanism in place for accountability.
  4. Have the right people involved and keep it moving to end results, accomplishments. These are efforts or project teams to get results.
  5. Assure that all meetings are facilitated using a structured process.
  6. Make it a way of life, not a flavor of the day, week, month or year.

 

Berkshire Group has facilitated many continuous improvement projects over the past twenty five years in a variety of environments and sizes of organizations. We have also worked with individuals to assist them in their development using the same methodology. I would say that as I look back on the levels of success I could point directly to the elements that I have mentioned above, whether or not they were present or to the degree they were present to analyze the level of success.

Life is exciting when it is about getting better in a variety of ways in a variety of areas. Why not do it in a way that gets the results that you are looking for and keep repeating it?