As many as 80% of small businesses worldwide deal with irregular cash flow crisis on a daily basis. This can be completely avoided by installing a culture of Continuous Improvement in your company.
A culture of continuous improvement straight away means continuous business improvement, lower operational costs and higher profits.
But, for Continuous Improvement programs to generate faster ROI (return on investment), we must consider following four factors-
- Employee engagement.
- Communication strategy.
- Employee training.
- Choice of Continuous Improvement methodology.
Let's look at them one-by-one ...
One of the most important ways of developing culture of Continuous Improvement in an organization is to let the employees know their significance to the 'Continuous Improvement' goal.
Adding an incentive to Continuous Improvement campaigns has often been found to raise employee morale. Incentives such as monetary rewards, flexible work timings, insurance, promotions, paid education, low-interest loans are usually appreciated by employees.
Next success factor is- Communication strategy.
Developing a culture of Continuous Improvement often relies on the Continuous Improvement change leader's ability to communicate regularly, precisely and authentically share ideas with employees.
While designing communication strategy, it is necessary to be conscious that, everyone do not have the ability to communicate exactly what's in their mind. Regardless of the caliber, level of education or work cadre, people do have challenges expressing thoughts and feelings, and it is very human, nothing wrong with it.
Hence, continuous improvement change leaders and HR leaders must design communication strategy over a solid foundation of emotional quotient to empathize and anticipate employee concerns.
Also, change leaders must repeat their messages frequently. The '7 times rule' of branding also applies here.
The 7 times rule says that information must be brought in front of the audience at least seven times via multiple channels and at periodic frequency. Employee-communications must be repeated frequently, so that employees are often reminded of the objective underlying the continuous improvement campaign, and also how their contribution is vital to the success of the campaign.
Further, employees should know whom they can ask questions to; because it is vital that employees are encouraged to ask questions and feel comfortable asking them.
Lastly, the communication strategy must be modified from time-to-time as work-place realities change.
The third success factor is Employee training ...
Continuous Improvement in an organization means that employees are constantly learning, improving and consistently contributing to the main goal of the company.
In any company big or small, employee mix has various components- old hands, new hires, varied levels of intellect, analytical ability and memory. Therefore learning tools and techniques must be malleable and customized according to leaner's capabilities, only then it will give best rewards.
Another point to note is that, unlike previously, skills today have a short shelf life of 2-3 years. As technology advances or customer demands change, companies need to continuously reinvent themselves to stay afloat. Employees too must unlearn and reinvent themselves to stay relevant. And this can happen with continuously learning.
Therefore corporate learning and development strategy must focus on continuous re-skilling and up-skilling, so that your talent pool is always confident and job-ready.
The fourth success factor is Continuous Improvement methodology itself...
Choice of Continuous Improvement methodology -
Continuous Improvement necessitates all individuals within the company to move in the same direction and meet goals in an organized manner. Using a variety of assessment and planning tools determine the speed and duration of change, operational effectiveness and sustained organizational excellence with the Continuous Improvement initiatives.
There are over 18 different time-tested Continuous Improvement methodologies including- Lean, Kaizen, Six Sigma, ISO, Kanban etc. These Continuous Improvement methodologies are scientific in outlook, easy to implement and versatile- meaning they can be applied to any industry sector.
The choice of the continuous improvement methodology largely depends on the size of the business, work-place culture, product offerings, regions of operations, customer persona, cash-flow situation and operational pains of the organization. Hence, it is extremely important to understand ‘how to choose a continuous improvement methodology’ that is most beneficial for your business.
Selecting the right continuous improvement methodology is therefore, lifeline of your continuous improvement program.
Ensuring excellence in strategy design of all of the above four success factors and its execution, largely guarantees sustained success with continuous improvement aka business growth!