From Kaizen to Lean Six Sigma

Which process management style fits your need? Do you choose one or use them all?

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How can continuous improvement help your business?

More and more, businesses across a range of industries are focused on achieving better efficiency and doing more with less resource. This is understandable in today's volatile world, where uncertainty reigns and companies must streamline and optimise their operations to provide the best return possible for their efforts.

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Many savvy businesses are therefore turning to continuous improvement to facilitate these gains, whereby the organisation employs a holistic view of its end-to-end operations and is then able to make small, incremental changes at every stage, combining to provide a much larger boost to performance overall.

Here we examine the many benefits of continuous improvement and how a shift to this mindset can make your business more productive, profitable and an enjoyable place to work.

1. Incremental gains will all add up

Making alterations to processes that yield small gains either through enhanced efficiency or lower costs can soon add up when this mindset is replicated across every stage of product delivery.

Organisations with a focus on continuous improvement are able to optimise processes in small ways without a large-scale shift in practice, and while the manner of operations may change minimally at each step, the cumulative impact of these changes will be much greater.

2. Continuous improvement brings people together

Continuous improvement actions rely on teams and individuals working closely together to identify changes that can be made to enhance performance. In doing so, a more collaborative and supportive culture can be developed within a business.

Organisations must ensure they have the buy-in of all individuals involved in the delivery of a product or service to achieve the best results and helping teams to communicate better will only support these efforts.

3. Small change brings less friction

Nobody likes being told to overhaul their practices and ways of working, and doing so can create a lot of tension among individuals who are not bought in to the new style of working.

Instead, the major benefit of a continuous improvement programme lies in the 'less is more' approach; people will be more likely to react positively to minor changes over time than one big hit, so friction among staff can be minimised.

4. Successful improvements can be easily standardised

When a process is shown to have been made more efficient or streamlined as a result of a change in the way teams operate, the lessons learnt from this action can then be rolled out more widely to other relevant operations within a business.

For example, the introduction of cellular teams, in place of silos which separate production stages into singular steps, could increase efficiency in manufacturing for some businesses. When this has been shown to work for one product, it is simply a matter of replicating this elsewhere to ensure wider organisational gains.

5. Organisations can adopt future requirements and changes more easily

One of the most important benefits of implementing continuous improvement is that the complete organisation will get used to studying and evaluating its processes and to making improvements.

So, when unexpected situations happen, such as a fire, a change in law, a supplier that doesn't perform, sick employees, etc, the whole company will be used to dealing with these issues; it is yet another situation that needs to be studied and acted upon. The organisation has become an agile company.

Engage Process can offer a helping hand to organisations keen to employ the practice of continuous improvement in their process management operations. Please download our whitepaper 'From Kaizen to Six Sigma: What process management style is right for you?' to find out more. 

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