Continuous improvement is no longer a mystery in businesses. To keep the business is relevant to the market, the organization must implement continuous improvement directly or indirectly.
Continuous improvement (CI), sometimes called continual improvement, is the ongoing improvement of products, services, or processes through incremental and breakthrough improvements. Delivery processes are constantly evaluated from the customer’s view of point and improved in the light of their efficiency, effectiveness, and flexibility. Typically, the organization will assess these three elements (critical to satisfaction) as the focus of CI.
One quality gurus, Edward Deming, saw continuous improvement as part of the ‘system’ whereby feedback from the process and customer were evaluated against organizational goals.
A broader definition is that of the Institute of Quality Assurance, which defined “continuous improvement as a gradual never-ending change which is: ‘… focused on increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization to fulfill its policy and objectives. It is not limited to quality initiatives. A business strategy, business results, customer, employee, and supplier relationships can be subject to continual improvement. Put, it means ‘getting better all the time.’
The concept of CI is getting well known after the late 1980s, thanks to Masaki Imai’s famous book 1986 book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success. The tactical continuous improvement method is discussed in the book regarding organizational culture, support, and behaviors.
Among the most widely used tools for continuous improvement are the four-step quality model—the PDCA cycle and the five-steps quality model- the DMAIC cycle:
Other widely used continuous improvement methods — such as Six Sigma, Lean, and Total Quality Management — emphasize employee involvement and teamwork; measuring and systematizing processes; and reducing variation, defects, and cycle times.
Benefits of Continuous Improvement
To improve quality
The backbone of continuous improvement is the quality tools, and the CI is usually a part of quality initiatives in the organizations. The original focus of CI is to improve quality by reducing defects, slow production, or variations in the delivery processes. It is important to understand the impact of cost of poor quality (COPQ) on businesses. The methods in CI enable the business to improve the quality with structured ways and how to instill the solutions within the organization.
Business entities are profit-oriented organizations, and it is not rocket science that profit can be increased by increasing the revenue or reducing the cost. In most the situations, revenue is beyond the organization’s control. Hence, the cost is something that we see as a controllable variable. But reducing cost might also negatively impact if it is not executed correctly. Thus, continuous improvement methods provide a better way to view and eliminate the excess cost from a ‘waste’ perspective
Gain Flexibility and Job Satisfaction
Many companies that practice structured continuous improvement enjoy the flexibility and better job satisfaction. The initiative provides a good platform and opportunity for the employee to improve their work and be innovative.
How to implement Continuous Improvement Initiative?
Working to improve constantly is the number one way many businesses reduce operating overhead. Lean Six Sigma methodology is the improvement technique that helps streamline workflows and reduce variation based on data (not perception). Efficient workflows save time and money, allowing you to reduce wasted time and effort.
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