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Written by Suzannah Hale
on May 03, 2019

Would you like your staff to be empowered and want to improve their workplace? 

Would you like your organisation to have a culture of change?

How can you achieve this?

Continuous Improvement Techniques, also known as Kaizen, are a group of methodologies that allow everyone in your business to:

  • take ownership of their areas
  • WANT to make positive change
  • demonstrate measurable improvements

The techniques include challenging fixed ideas, involving everyone from the ‘top-down’ to the ‘bottom up’ and using a systematic approach to developing and implementing plans. Continuous Improvement involves empowering your staff, encouraging them to make effective change and giving them the tools to do so. It involves identifying wastes in your business processes and ways to eliminate them.

Why does Continuous Improvement work?

  • Staff feel they are able to make a change in their own areas
  • Staff feel they have a say and are supported
  • The right people make the right decisions around change
  • Everyone feels engaged and involved

Continuous Improvement involves utilising the Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) cycle. It’s a model for carrying out a change in an organisation, enabling you to avoid recurring mistakes and improve processes.

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How can you utilise this model in your organisation to implement continuous improvements?

Plan

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What do you need to do? Depending on the size of a project or process, planning can be a major part of its success or failure. Ask yourself some basic questions:

 - What core problem needs to be solved?
 - What resources will we need?
 - What’s the best solution you can provide with the resources available?
 - What are the goals?

It’s important not to rush this stage. Having multiple meetings to discuss the plan with employees, provide the opportunity for feedback and to get the whole team on board with the plan.

 

Do

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The do phase allows the plan from the previous step to be enacted. It’s time to take action. There might be some unpredicted issues here, as situations that weren’t previously considered in the plan arise. Small changes are usually tested, and data is gathered to see how effective the change is. Ensure each team member is aware of their role and responsibility.

 

 

Check

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This is the most important stage of the cycle. During this stage it’s common to regularly check for successes and failures of the plan, making a chart can help you see trends and evaluate where change is required. The chart will be particularly useful if you’re going to be repeating the cycle multiple times, to identify overall trends. Analyse and correct any recurring failures at this stage to improve the success of the plan.

 

Act

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Your plan has now been tried and tested on a small scale and is ready to be rolled out to various areas of the organisation. Recorded data from the ‘do’ and ‘check’ phases will help identify issues with the plan in different areas.

If all the objectives and goals are met by implementing the plan, it is appropriate to adopt the change for the foreseeable future, leaving you free to plan the next change you wish to implement in the organisation. If they are not met, however, repeat the cycle with a new plan, and see how that fares in your organisation.

Before repeating the cycle again, spend some time reflecting on why the planned change didn’t succeed. When you plan for a new change in the next cycle, it should not create recurrence of the identified issues; if it does, then the action was not effective.

 

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