What is Continuous Improvement?
Continuous Improvement is a process used to improve products or services on an incremental basis. It is unique in that it aims to reduce waste and streamline work. “W. Edwards Deming, a pioneer of the field, saw it as part of the ‘system’ whereby feedback from the process and customer were evaluated against organizational goals. The fact that it can be called a management process does not mean that it needs to be executed by ‘management’; but rather merely that it makes decisions about the implementation of the delivery process and the design of the delivery process itself.” Continuous improvement extends itself beyond the upper management and extends the conversation to every role in the company.
Continuous Improvement and Open Innovation
Open innovation is more than a buzzword; it has revolutionized the way that companies do business. It only makes sense that continuous improvement and open innovation go hand in hand. While innovation welcomes new ideas from unlikely sources, continuous improvement ensures that these new ideas are continually discussed, analyzed, and evaluated. And, because continuous improvement is a process that invites all employees to express feedback, it mirrors the collaborative work environment of open innovation.
How it Works
Continuous improvement is an easy process to adopt because it operates fluidly within your organization. The process itself is called a continuous improvement event. It takes place over a one to five day period. The frequency of the events supports open innovation, transparency, and company morale. There are four simple steps in a continuous improvement event:
- Identify new opportunities
- Create a plan
- Implement those changes
- Review and discuss changes
Some fear that implementing change will result in superfluous products and ideas, but continuous improvement is designed to embrace while at the same time identify change that cannot succeed.
If you’d like to learn more about how about innovation, download the innovation starter kit. There you can also learn more about how you can implement continuous improvement in your organization.