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Eight Keys to Driving a Successful Continuous Improvement Program

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Driving a successful continuous improvement program is an ambitious and often intimidating goal. Especially in an organization that may have embarked on this continuous improvement journey before only to falter at seeing the program succeed.

Even though every organization is unique, and there is no way to guarantee the success of a continuous improvement program, we have observed eight principles that, when observed, substantially increase the chances of a successful journey.

1. Get Leadership Involved
When leadership shows commitment, it motivates everyone to do the same. Leadership should establish attainable continuous improvement goals that are in line with existing business operations and organizational culture.
Measuring the success of the continuous improvement efforts will be based on these goals. Having the end goal in mind from the beginning, allows leadership to know when their goals have been achieved or how far they have progressed.

2. Communicate Continuous Improvement to Everyone
The continuous improvement program must be communicated to the rest of the organization. This starts with the key stakeholders who will influence others in the organization to buy into the program.
Make sure everyone shares the same vision to allow everyone to work toward the same goals.

3. Develop a Framework
This is key to sustaining a continuous improvement program. Establish a consistent methodology and process that will be used to spearhead improvement ideas. That framework could be Kaizen, PDCA, or others. Consistency across the organization is critical.

4. Make Sure Everyone Understands What Role They Have to Play
Clearly define the role of every member of the organization, as well as adding incentives for a job well done.

5. Practice Caution and Patience
Instilling a culture of continuous improvement will not happen immediately. Caution and patience need to be practiced to see how much work the teams can reasonably handle. Expecting results too quickly may lead to frustration on everyone’s part.

6. Measure Results
Quantify the results that are being achieved. Management will see the value and invest more in these efforts. Employees will also see that they are making a positive change, making them feel more valuable to the organization. This will fuel your program.

7. Communicate Progress
Informed all stakeholders of the progress. It is vital that everyone understands the progress.

8. Repeat
It’s continuous. Go through these steps again and again to keep the culture of continuous improvement going.

Conclusion
These steps will help drive a culture of continuous improvement. Resist the temptation to take shortcuts or to think that the program is on “auto-pilot”. Continue to feed the program and keep all stakeholders involved.

THE FRONTLINE DOJO

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