Continuous Improvement: A Remedy for Fear of Failure
Are you afraid to fail? Do you put off new projects or avoid trying out your ideas because you’re terrified they won’t work? We have two pieces of good news for you…
You’re not alone
Almost everyone has felt this at some time or feels it frequently. Fear of failure is part of every undertaking, great or small.
Failing can actually improve your productivity
True story. In this article, we’ll explain how...
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What is Continuous Improvement?
Continuous improvement (sometimes referred to as “continual improvement” or simply “CI”) is an indefinite commitment to improving processes, products, services, or cultures.
It is about finding opportunities to learn and improve when things don't work.
There are many philosophies, tools and approaches used to implement a continuous improvement approach. We give you tips on how you can gain some of these tools below.
First, let’s take a look at why a culture of continuous improvement is worth considering.
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What are the Benefits of Continuous Improvement?
There are so many rewards you’ll gain from taking a continuous improvement approach. We have grouped some of the top benefits together here.
1. Streamline Processes, Eliminate Waste, Lower Costs
By using a continuous improvement (CI) approach, you’ll tackle any areas of waste within your business. Evaluating and streamlining processes leads to reduced costs and savings across the board.
2. Increase Productivity
Streamlined processes equal faster production times and less obstacles cropping up. This in turn leads to a higher level of productivity.
3. Better Quality
Continuous improvement is not just about making things faster. It’s about becoming more efficient and finding a higher, more consistent quality level for your products, processes, and services.
4. Fresh Ideas and Perspectives
If you never try, you’ll never know…
When you remove the fear of having to get everything right on the first try, you open up so many more opportunities for creative solutions and new initiatives.
5. Improve Morale
Working in this kind of dynamic, productive environment will boost employee enthusiasm. Continuous improvement encourages new ideas and eliminates a fear-based, blaming culture. Everyone feels more confident about sharing and trying new ideas.
6. Transform Failure
As Einstein himself said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”.
Mistakes are how we learn, how we get better.
Who uses Continuous Improvement?
Although continuous improvement has been popular - particularly in the manufacturing sector – for decades, recent years have seen CI culture spread like wildfire across almost every sector.
Project managers and popular project management methodologies are incorporating a strong focus on CI as part of their project life cycle. In particular, Agile, Scrum and PRINCE2® allocate a specific section within their project cycle to reflection and continuous improvement.
You may already associate this ethos with organisations like Toyota and Motorola, but did you know that many leaders in non-manufacturing sectors are also invested in this approach?
Amazon, Starbucks, and Google are 3 giants who spring to mind here. Spotify is another great example of a hugely successful organisation using continuous improvement to accelerate their success.
They pride themselves on having a “fail-friendly environment”. One of Spotify’s founders, Daniel Ek went so far as to say “We aim to make mistakes faster than anyone else”.
He holds that the faster you fail, the faster you learn and improve. We agree.
Read the Full Article
We took a more detailed look at Spotify’s Agile Culture in our article, “Spotify and Agile: A Case Study on Agile Environments”.
Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement
Lean Six Sigma
is probably the best-known
of frameworks for implementing continuous improvement.
Lean focuses on eliminating waste
and streamlining a process. Six Sigma works to improve consistency
by reducing variations and defects.
You can find out more about how Lean Six Sigma works
by reading our article, “What is Lean Six Sigma?”
What is the Kaizen Approach?
is a Japanese term that means “a good change” or “improvement”. Over the years, Kaizen became a popular term in CI as it was used by many major Japanese companies
who practiced a CI culture.
Today, it’s one of the most effective continuous improvement approaches available. We cover Kaizen Events
as part of both our Lean Six Sigma Green Belt
and Black Belt
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Tips for Implementing Continuous Improvement
Aim for organisation-wide support
Continuous improvement can be effective at a personal or team level. However, for maximum impact and transformational change, continuous improvement is best adopted at an organisation-wide level.
When this happens, the entire culture of your workplace shifts to the positive, productive energy of CI.
Acquire as many skills as possible
While it seems a simple principle, to get the best results and move your CI process along at an efficient speed, it is essential to train in the methods and frameworks used to implement this game-changing tactic.
Lean Six Sigma training and certification is our top tip for gaining as many useful continuous improvement tools and frameworks as possible.
Train your team
If it’s within your influence, encouraging as many people as possible to train in continuous improvement – usually starting with team training at a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt level – is a great way to fast-track your organisation’s continuous improvement culture-shift.
Take time to tailor to your organisation
Once you have completed training and gained the skills you need to implement CI, we recommend allocating time to translate the tools and principles to make them relevant to your workplace.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
As you undertake your continuous improvement journey, communication skills will provide an excellent support system for keeping everyone engaged and on board.
“How can I begin using Continuous Improvement?”
Training for Me
If you want to start by expanding your own capabilities and understanding, we recommend choosing one of our public Lean Six Sigma courses.
If you would like a great introduction to Lean Six Sigma in a short timeframe, take a look at our Yellow Belt course.
This course is a perfect starting point for those who want to learn about Lean Six Sigma tools and gain the ability to begin contributing to process improvments.
If you're serious about getting into Lean Six Sigma, we could nearly place a big flashing “start here” sign over this course!
No experience is needed for this intensive, 5-day course. It's more in-depth than the Yellow Belt and leads to a respected QQI Certification.
If you have solid formal or informal experience in leading continuous improvement initiatives and would like to take your abilities to the next level, Black Belt could be the next step.
Training for my Team
For those seeking to bring in a culture of continuous improvement across a team, department, or organisation, we recommend in-company training.
This style of delivery enables us to customise programmes specifically for your business. We can develop phased training courses to address different goals and groups of people.
Advice on Getting Continuous Improvement Skills
If you would like to find out more about how continuous improvement could benefit your career or business, but aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help.
Call our consultants on Freephone 1800 910 810 or 01 861 0700. You can also click below to request a call back or ask any question.