There are 5 key elements for driving continuous improvement. Part IV of this series is about the most effective way to integrate continuous improvement into your business and creating a culture of strategic execution. Continuous improvement as a strategy requires a well thought through change management program that is focused on implementation, integration and sustainability. Many companies we have worked with have decided that they would pilot a program in an area of the business that needs help with the expectation that if it doesn’t work, or isn’t sustainable, no foul, no harm. This approach seldom works and ends up wasting money, time and increases the frustration inside the organization. After all, when this approach is taken, Continuous Improvement is just another management fad that will be forgotten in 6 months to a year. This result is typically caused by a lack of understanding of what Continuous Improvement is and how to apply Continuous Improvement tools to business strategies.
So, what are the key elements of implementing a successful and sustainable Continuous Improvement program?
- Visibility: An effective CI program needs to be visible and keep everyone’s attention from the boardroom to the stockroom.
- Objective Based: Every CI project needs to have a clear set of objectives that will noticeably impact the business.
- Cross Functional: Organizations don’t work vertically anymore. They work horizontally, and if the CI program is going to keep everyone’s attention, then everyone needs to be involved.
- Led By Senior Leadership: No program, CI or otherwise is sustainable if it doesn’t have senior leadership focus and attention.
- Properly Funded: Every CI program is going to need funding. Many programs are underfunded because they don’t provide a large enough ROI to be able to compete with other critical projects such as new products, R&D and other CapEx projects.
- Move the Strategic Needle: Every investment of time, resource and money needs to be focused on strategic initiatives. If a program doesn’t move the strategic needle forward, then it shouldn’t be done.
Given these requirements, it should be clear that if a Continuous Improvement program is going to compete for scarce resources, be successful and sustainable, then the projects need to have a positive impact on the top line and the bottom line.
We recommend that the implementation roadmap for Continuous Improvement be focused on the implementation of business strategies because 90% of companies don’t successfully implement their strategies. Strategic Execution is the domain of the Board of Directors and the C-Suite. Business strategies are visible, objective based, cross functional, led by senior leadership and are properly funded. The implementation of new strategies requires effective change management. Strategic initiatives meet all of the above requirements. Utilizing Continuous Improvement tools on the implementation of business strategy will significantly improve the strategic outcomes and support the key requirements of Continuous Improvement. It demonstrates significant results, has everyone’s attention and is the first step in developing a culture of strategic execution.
Find out more about how driving Continuous Improvement and strategic execution are mutually inclusive by calling (909) 949-908, dropping Group50 a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or requesting more information here.
About the Author: Jim Gitney is the CEO of Group50, a continuous improvement consulting firm that specializes in business process improvement and strategic execution at every level of a business. Group50 consultants are operating professionals who have managed key business processes in every functional area. They understand how complex it is to successfully implement strategic change, implement change management programs, redesign business processes and move a company towards a culture of strategic execution utilizing Continuous Improvement programs and tools.
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