Successful businesses build themselves on improvement and the advancement of their practices and products. Improvement is often seen as a natural consequence of growth, something that comes from the inertia of moving forward and managing your business successfully. But is it efficient?
What if you implement a system that actively sustains continuous improvement in your company, maximizing the resources invested in this direction?
Well, this system already exists, and it’s called the continuous improvement business strategy. It can be learned, adapted, and applied to your processes, streamlining them and using the resources as efficiently as possible.
What is Continuous Improvement?
Continuous improvement is the ongoing improvement of products, processes, or services.
Think about the major turning points in your own company, moments in time when significant changes occurred, and there was tangible growth. What ideas were behind all that?
Brilliant ideas can’t be incubated or fabricated. But waiting for them to happen as if they were a weather phenomenon is not very productive. Idea management is a crucial competitive advantage in any business, and continuous improvement pinpoints, breeds, and nourishes good ideas.
Part of a company’s bottom-up continuous improvement culture is to involve every employee in the process. Everyone contributes to the process and will have direct responsibilities, making each employee accountable for progress. As we will see further on, this is one of the main benefits of this meta-process.
What Are the Benefits of Instituting a Continuous Improvement Program?
A tenet of continuous improvement involves actively monitoring workflows to identify weak points and sourcing solutions to make them faster, more efficient, and of higher quality.
With a bottom-up continuous improvement approach, your frontline employees are the ones submitting the majority of ideas to improve processes, reduce waste, and better serve customers. It’s a simple approach that empowers the people actually doing the work to suggest improvements to the process.
Better Teamwork, Engaged Employees
Many people are unhappy with their workplace, whether it’s a lack of motivation or perspective. Engagement within a team is, on average, lower than you would hope, many times shockingly low. In fact, one study found that only 16 percent of employees consider themselves fully engaged while the vast majority is just "coming to work."
Many employees are demotivated because their ideas are not listened to and never get to see the light of day. Involving everyone in a continuous improvement process increases engagement and trust. One study found that employees who feel like part of a team are twice more likely to be fully engaged. Collaboration (enabling employees to share ideas and innovate) can improve teamwork and lead to better-engaged employees. By encouraging your groundfloor workforce to suggest meaningful changes to how they do their jobs, leadership shows confidence in the strength of their people and that they value their input.
Lower Employee Turnover
Employee turnover costs a company one-half to two times the employee's annual salary. Reducing turnover is one of the biggest challenges in any company, and continuous improvement helps increase employee retention by giving everyone the power of influence. That means analyzing workforce performance and identifying the process that can be improved and streamlined. By improving these processes, you can enable your employees to communicate better, be more efficient, share ideas, and innovate, all of which can boost their morale and happiness.
Better Products or Services
As its name suggests, continuous improvement’s main benefit is making your company better at what it does. Naturally, as your products or services improve, you will gain authority in your field, and strengthen your expertise and reputation.
But, more than anything, continuous improvement is about creating products and services that better meet your customers’ needs.
Better Customer Service
Excellent customer service starts with understanding the value that your customers are looking for and subsequently delivering that value. The continuous improvement approach provides the framework for identifying customer expectations and minimizing unnecessary costs or resources to deliver them to customers. Companies that use this approach are better at aligning their products and services with customer demands and can even anticipate shifts in customer preferences before they happen.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Eighty percent of your potential improvement is in your frontline workforce. By focusing on the internal processes in your company, you will be able to identify resource waste and redesign your workflow to become more efficient and productive from the bottom up. The continuous improvement model is proven to help companies achieve higher performances and break boundaries.
With a continuous improvement mindset, you can identify and eliminate redundant routines, errors, and gaps in communication and streamline your workflow. For example, it can help you eliminate unnecessary spending on materials, reduce wasteful physical movement or steps in a process, and increase overall efficiency.
Establishment of a Proactive Learning Culture
The business ecosystem is ever-changing, and if you are stuck doing things the way you were doing them five or ten years ago, you risk losing customers. A continuous improvement approach challenges companies to stay on top of the trends and get out of their comfort zone to reach the next level of success.
If you want your company to benefit from a transparent, streamlined idea management system, start your free trial of Idea Pipeline. Our software is designed for easy use, enabling your employees to submit ideas, provide feedback and see the most popular ideas at the top.
With Idea Pipeline, projects come to life by efficiently bringing innovative ideas from the heads of your team members to implementation, helping employees connect with key decision-makers. A system like Idea Pipeline increases motivation and engagement for your front-line workers and boosts productivity, efficiency, and fosters innovation.