Your continuous improvement process
A continuous improvement process (CIP) is not strictly speaking a method as such. Instead, it is a mindset, a corporate culture. The underlying idea is that you make improvements throughout your production, administration, quality management and service teams – in short, everywhere in your company – on a continuous basis. And first and foremost, you tap into the potential of your workforce.
Using a continuous improvement process to discover potential
Accordingly, the first step is to identify opportunities for improvement. This potential can be identified in machine processes, for example, such as when working to reduce your wastes:
- Making too much product
Or in Logistics:
- Time spent waiting
- Unnecessary/prolonged shipments
Identifying and remedying the causes of these wastes forms an integral part of your improvement process. The people who are most able to detect these problems are those employees who are involved in the corresponding processes at your company. An alternative is to take a methodological approach to detecting problems, such as by implementing a 5S project, which often uncovers these sorts of problems.
The next step is all about utilising the potential that has been identified. To do this, you need to drill down to the actual problems beyond the symptoms that occur in your processes. There are several approaches to doing this, such as the ishikawa diagram or 5 Whys method, as well as many other useful strategies.
You also need to set up communication structures that allow your employees to communicate these kinds of problems. And it is equally important to tell your employees that their input is being actively requested. This also means:
- Management staff need to acknowledge this input – simply ignoring proposed improvements will discourage employees from giving feedback in the future.
- • Clear structures should be set out both for responsibilities and for the actions to take to solve the problem.
If you have accepted a problem and entrusted someone with achieving its solution, then there are many methods open to you for making these improvements as well as standards for ensuring they become permanent.
- Problem-solving story (PSS)
- A3 Report
Continuous improvement process – advantages and benefits
A continuous improvement process can only succeed if your executive team puts your culture into practice. You should also encourage employees to adopt this conduct accordingly. If you succeed in fulfilling these requirements, you can ensure long-term improvement for your business:
- Employees feel they are taken seriously and can contribute themselves – which improves employee satisfaction.
- • Your employees will identify more strongly with your business, because they get involved and achieve something personally in the process.
- Errors are identified and resolved more quickly.
- Opportunities for improvement are detected and exploited faster.