WHAT IS A CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT MINDSET?
The word appears straightforward, but how does it work in practice? What does it look like to implement continuous improvement in a corporate environment?
The PDCA model (Plan, Do, Check, Act) is the most often utilised. Any process may be improved by going through these four processes.
The focus in this initial step is on describing the problem and developing a method that you will test in order to address the problem, such as:
What is the scope of the project?
What is the goal?
What is the most effective strategy for achieving the desired result?
This entails forming a team and devising a schedule.
This step can be used to carry out a full plan or to test a pilot solution on a lesser scale. In any case, this is an opportunity to try something new and discover if and how it works. The idea is to keep track of the steps you take and collect data and feedback as you go.
This is a time to research the method you’ve chosen and compare the results to what you expected when you started preparing. Pose queries such as:
Was the strategy successful/efficient?
Did everything go according to plan? Why do you think that is?
What worked well and what didn’t?
If the strategy didn’t work, go back to step one (planning) and think about what you learnt and why it didn’t generate the desired results. You can move on to the following stage if it was successful.
Now that you’ve incorporated the previous steps’ lessons and feedback, it’s time to fully execute the new solution. Remember that this isn’t the ultimate solution or the only option. Instead, it will serve as the new benchmark against which you will judge future progress.
Much of the value of continuous improvement can be found in what a company does after going through the phases indicated above. When changes are made to a process in a typical company context, those improvements become “the way things are,” not to be questioned until something goes wrong. Every advancement in the continuous improvement process becomes the new baseline for the next.
This PDCA cycle is simple, and the value of the continuous improvement is evident, but how do you put it into practice in a company that isn’t already using it or isn’t familiar with Lean and Agile methodologies?
Continuous improvement is implemented in a variety of methods and to varying degrees by businesses. It takes a significant amount of effort to integrate the concept into a company’s foundation, but as we previously stated, it does not need to be applied on a big scale to be helpful. It can start small, with a single team or department, and then spread to other parts of the company.
Regardless of how much continuous development is practised, the outcomes will appear gradually over time. The important thing is to start somewhere; choose a part of your business that needs improvement and see how the process works for you.
HOW TO BUILD A CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT MINDSET?
People make errors. Every single one. Mistakes are a necessary element of gaining experience and serve as learning catalysts: now we know there’s an issue.
What can we do about it?
What are the key takeaways?
A mistake is just a mistake if you repeat it…because you didn’t put forth the effort to learn the lesson the first time.
Analyze the error, concentrating on the what and how rather than the who. Whoever made the error (it could have been anyone) did you a favour by bringing attention to an underlying problem or risk. Take anything away from it. Change the way you go about things. Keep moving forward and upward.
The next step is the easiest; it requires no more work. It is the ascension that necessitates introspection; nonjudgmental introspection.
A challenge is a problem, and a problem is an opportunity.
This is the element of continuous improvement philosophy, sometimes known as a growth mentality in psychological circles.
Effective continuous development is dependent on two factors:
1. A growth mentality exists on a micro level, at the level of individual people (an acceptance that it is both possible and necessary to develop over time).
2. At the organisational level, it necessitates a forgiving culture in which mistakes are recognised as a part of life rather than perceived as a calamity that requires punishment.
When an organization’s culture does not accept mistakes, employees may either cover them up or avoid circumstances where they might make a mistake. This is bad for two reasons.
There is no learning and no adjustment applied to the way things are done if the mistake is purposefully buried to avoid penalty.
Because the underlying danger is disguised from management, their understanding of what is truly going on is tainted, and their decision-making is biassed.
This is why an aggressive business culture that punishes mistakes can lead to a company’s demise. The fear of making mistakes (or of being held responsible for them) is both paralysing and blinding. Innovation and creativity are exploratory activities that necessitate stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and into unexplored territory.
You enter a world of unknown hazards once you leave your comfort zone (the world of known risks). When you’re going forward into something new and unexpected, you’re more likely to make mistakes.
So, when thinking about how to drive continuous improvement, keep in mind that it’s not about putting in a CSI procedure. It is based on a healthy human mindset as well as a tolerant and learning-oriented organisational culture. The investigation, analysis, and learning are all necessary for continuous improvement. Every single day. Allow folks to move around freely.
People in an organisation must be able to recognise flaws, call them out (without being judged), and work to improve things. They need room to try again if it doesn’t work well—without losing morale.
The majority of individuals value the potential to do things better. Continuous improvement will become a natural part of your corporate culture if you can remove the fear and provide a framework for individuals to acquire a growth mentality. And amazing things will happen in a hurry.
IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT MINDSET
It can be intimidating to think about introducing a foreign technique, as it is with any new process. In this scenario, it’s more about changing people’s mindsets than it is about teaching them a new technique.
Continuous improvement does not have to add to your workload; it should not require additional steps or time. The steps are supposed to be included in the work that has previously been completed.
This isn’t to say that you have to change processes that are working well. There are always aspects of the firm that may be better, and the goal is to find them. Always keep in mind that continual improvement is an attitude, not a task.
ADVANTAGES OF CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT MINDSET FOR ENTREPRENEURS
“Why do continuous improvement?” you may still wonder.
You may experience different results depending on the size of your firm and the extent to which it is applied. The following are some of the most prevalent advantages that have resulted as a result:
✔️Product quality has improved.
✔️Increased productivity and efficiency
✔️Teamwork and employee satisfaction
✔️Customer satisfaction is important.
The benefits of continual improvement can be exponential, as you can see from the list above. Employees who work to improve the company feel more personally accomplished, which leads to their remaining longer at the company and creating more impactful achievements.
Technology and innovation are progressing at a faster rate than ever before. You will quickly fall behind if you cling to what you know and what has always worked. Your firm will take a different, more successful path if you adopt a mindset of continuous process improvement.