Incremental Changes Drive Best Practice

Incremental Changes
Drive Best Practice

By Michael Dietrich

The term continuous improvement has
been around since the emergence of Lean and the Toyota Production
System. For most of us it is synonymous with best practice
management philosophies in efficiency and waste elimination in the
manufacturing process. Customer valued delivery processes are
constantly evaluated and improved in the light of their efficiency,
effectiveness and flexibility.

Continuous improvement is more than
just a Lean philosophy. It is the foundation for many management
systems in general and can be applied across industries, businesses
and functions to create incremental shifts in improvement. By
applying the core principles of continuous improvement to develop the
processes used by all your employees and functional areas will ensure
your business is able to harness all its capabilities to meet growing
productivity demands without eroding profits or customer goodwill.

Step 1: Feedback

The first step to take when seeking to
implement continuous improvement principles across your business is
to seek feedback. It is important to review and reflect on the
existing processes and/or services. A simple process, but one that
is often overlooked. Asking your customers (internal and
for their input on observed or experienced
inefficiencies that are impacting quality and reliability is
invaluable to any business – with many surprised at the results.

Step 2: Efficiency

Once the feedback has been sought it is
necessary to identify and prioritise the areas for improvement. The
process of reducing or eliminating these inefficient
processes/services is then undertaken. Encouraging high levels of
employee involvement from all levels is key to ensuring low

Step 3: Progression

The emphasis of continuous improvement
is on incremental improvement. Outcomes from the changes should be
focused on evolution rather than revolution. Progression implies
continuity of change and a commitment to continuing the process of
review and improve is on-going.

One of the key benefits of improving
your business incrementally is the comparative low cost, as changes
are small, greatly reducing the likelihood of major capital
investment. Many of the ideas come from the existing talents within
the business, encouraging employees to continually improve their own
performance and reinforce teamwork. But where the real value of
continuous improvement lies is the delivery of innovation and the
creation of a true competitive advantage that competitors whether
local or offshore, will struggle to replicate.

Dietrich is Managing Director of Phalanx Consulting Group with
specialist services in Strategic Planning, LEAN Management,
Organisational Development & People Management.

Consulting Group:

1300 731 245