Continuous Improvement One Project At a Time
In today’s marketplace, no organization can cling to the status quo and hope to survive in a world of continuous change. If executives in your business still resist this logic, it’s important to point out the compelling reasons to implement a process of continuous improvement:
- Competition is everywhere. Once upon a time, some businesses could hope to “corner the market” on a particular product or service. Today, there is always a competitor close on your heels.
- Data is accessible to everyone. Consumers are no longer restricted to whatever purchasing information a company provides them. With online resources in such abundance, they can easily compare and contrast your business with others. If you’re lagging in change processes, what reason do they have to buy from you?
- The world is the marketplace. Borders (state, national, international) don’t carry the meaning (or implied protection) they once did. Every business must be aware of changes occurring elsewhere in the world and have a system in place to contend with those changes.
Project managers must stay current on emerging technologies and trends. Attempt new things, measure their success and failure against the metrics previously established, and then “rinse and repeat.”
Improving processes one project at a time
Where businesses stumble is in the strategy and execution of implementing change, and creating the discipline to keep changing in spite of all the forces resisting that impulse.
Selecting an approach that emphasizes tackling one project at a time is a proven method for creating a desired atmosphere of continuous improvement within an organization. Among the benefits of this methodology:
- Creating enthusiasm around change and its possibilities
- Establishing a company-wide mindset in favor of continuous improvement
- Inviting greater stakeholder buy-in
- Questioning, at each stage, whether a project should be controlled, replaced or eliminated
Each successful conclusion of the one-project-at-a-time doctrine instills within the organization a greater commitment to this disciplined approach to continued improvement.
Improved, interrupted or eliminated?
Within the continuous improvement project mindset, change agents must also be prepared to question the “accepted” outcome of a project. Should a particular process be improved, interrupted or even done away with altogether?
While continuous improvement is the key objective, managers and others should always be prepared to ask fundamental questions that validate (or invalidate) the reasoning behind your projects.
Six Sigma training and continuous improvement
As the results of Six Sigma training increasingly influence organizational culture, there’s a greater impetus to look more closely at how projects are conducted and completed. A deeper knowledge of processes (and the need for improvement) becomes accepted and incorporated into everyday project work and training. Soon everyone “gets” the need to review process-related performance and work toward continuous improvement one project at a time.
The benefits of improving company processes by working through one project at a time won’t be immediately apparent to everyone involved. But by managing those changes, there’s a far greater chance of success. Wouldn’t you rather jump from an airplane with a parachute rather than attempting to fly blind, without navigation or instrumentation to correct your course?