Thursday, September 13, 2018

The “Continuous Improvement” as the Digital Principle to Achieve High Quality

Improvement cannot happen without change, and change should not happen without improvement. 

Change is inevitable, it will come by itself. The digital era means the increasing pace of change, the leapfrogging progress, and the collective societal advancement. Not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is definitely a change. For change to be embraced by stakeholders, they ultimately need to understand why it is an improvement and what it will improve for them. “Continuous Improvement” is the digital mantra and principle to achieve high quality.

Continuous improvement goes hand-in-hand with one of the digital principles": To learn constantly so we continually improve": Learning is the only way to adapt to changes. In a positive working environment, people focus on the learning opportunities offered by assignment, rather than on the status quo that goes with them. Continual improvement is not equal to slow when properly managed. Digital leaders delegate the work to employees for the sole purpose of helping them sharpen their skills and not just passing their work to get rid of it. Leaders encourage their employees to provide solutions to common problems by placing them on task force teams for specific projects. Another continuous improvement opportunity could be to offer job rotation programs where employees could have the chance to learn from their internal clients and colleagues about what they do. It’s about providing learning and development opportunities that contribute to high employee engagement if the program is structured correctly.

The culture of continuous improvement means to continue to discover that "there is always a better way”: When the wind of change blows, some build walls; some build windmills. Developing a culture of continuous improvement encourages the staff to get out of the comfort zone, figure out alternative ways to do things, enforce communication and foster innovation. Improvement is the reward for being willing to change. Improvement can only be there if people accept change, and make the most out of it. To make the collective improvement, having the senior people in operations and technical services incorporate the inputs or outlooks into in-house training programs so that the business knowledge is shared with others who can then try them out and hopefully improve them. This is one way of developing a continuous cycle of improvements and learning.

An improvement is a form of change, change can also be leapfrogged into business transformation: The magnitude of improvement and the impact it has on the organization, short term, long term, effectiveness, and profitability all depend on the vision and the competence of management leadership. There are multiple phases of improvement: Expect resistance; small improvements take best; constant ongoing small improvements; measure improvement; and reward improvements. Create a map for getting from the current mess to the desired condition. Determine constraints, decide what should be done, assign responsibility, and estimate completion. Create the opportunity for small but meaningful gains. Break the plan into meaningful chunks so people are willing to take risks and can readily measure progress. Measure and monitor both system and workgroup effectiveness to make sure improvements are performing as intended. Assuming an organization believes that metrics can lead to continuous improvement, it won’t be just a matter of explicitly communicating the intention behind metrics, but a matter of coaching and leadership to guide the team to understand the purpose of doing that and engaging on that.

Improvement cannot happen without change, and change should not happen without improvement. “Continuous Improvement” is the digital principle to achieve high quality. Change with improvement in mind is a proactive approach that allows for planning and support considerations to be made and, therefore, is much more likely to turn into a smooth and successful collaborative business transformation.