A time for reflection & forward planning for Continuous Improvement

Wikipedia’s definition of Continuous Improvement is: ‘A continual improvement process, also often called a continuous improvement process, is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once’

The Kaizen principle mirrors this. Kaizen is Japanese for ‘improvement’. Kai meaning Change and Zen meaning Good, so changes for the better, however small, contribute towards an organisation’s long term competitive strategy.

Kaizen is continuous improvement that is formed around a particular set of guiding principles:

  • Good processes bring good results
  • Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation
  • Speak with data, manage by facts
  • Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems
  • Work as a team
  • Kaizen is everybody’s business
  • And much more!

So how could this translate in your SME organisation?

Good processes bring good results

Strong growth and profitability require robust processes across the entire business. Both internally and externally look across the 4 pillars for growth – culture, customers, cash flow and profit.

Go see for yourself to grasp the current situation

Delegation is the mark of good leadership. Assigning responsibility to another to get something done does mean you are still accountable for its completion. Delegation vs abdication; be mindful of which you are doing and understand the difference. Be accountable and follow through on your commitments.

Speak with data, manage by facts

In this technology driven world we are becoming more and more reliant and unquestioning of data presented to us. With devices thinking for us much of the time, are we making decisions based purely on data from a report or system
alone without looking at the situation from a different viewpoint altogether? Keep a questioning mind and consider the peripheral facts when making any decision.

Take action to contain and correct root causes of problems

Treating the symptom, not the cause will only result in a recurring problem in a company. For example, tackling head on the root cause in your business of people problems might mean difficult and uncomfortable conversations. The longer it is ignored the more contaminating the behaviour becomes. Be aware that culture can make or break an organisation. Nip it in the bud and address it today.

Work as a team

Inspiring leadership and good communication are just two of things that contribute towards working as a team. All should be striving to improve results for customers. Having a mission and values alongside clear objectives give sound guidance on common purpose and goals; everyone understanding what is expected of them and why they are on the team.

Kaizen is everybody’s business

I am sure some of you will have heard this story which has varying titles, but the message is the same.

That’s Not My Job!

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. Ownership in any organisation, particularly of a job which continually gets orphaned is often a cause of friction and challenge. Weave ownership and accountability into the fabric of your business. And last but not least the final theory;

‘Big results come from many small changes over time’    according to the Kaizen principle. Ask yourself where changes for the better, however slight, can be made in your business in 2017.

We wish you all a successful New Year.

The nxo team


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