What is Continuous Improvement?
Continuous Improvement and Organizational Development are valuable tools in a Quality Management System (QMS). For improvement to occur it is essential that each important process in an organization be identified and analyzed. Once identified and documented, these processes can be regularly reviewed to access effectiveness by applying improvement based on metrics. It is important to realize that everything that happens in a business is a process and should be evaluated for inclusion into a QMS. This is because there are no activities that can not be made more effective. The benefits of this effectiveness can include increased product quality, enhanced customer satisfaction, reduction of costs, and employee satisfaction.
Types of Continuous Improvement
Basically there are two types of continuous improvement, incremental and breakthrough. It all boils down to the size of the steps. Big steps can be more costly and involve a greater risk. Therefore they are often reserved for cases where radical change is required. Incremental improvement is taken in small steps an can be easily assessed for effectiveness. Thereby allowing for more immediate adjustment of changes.
Establishing Paths for Feedback
Organizational feedback is very similar to feedback in mechanical systems. The famous Scottish inventor James Watt pioneered early feedback mechanisms in the 1700’s. One of his most important inventions was the centrifugal governor. This mechanism automatically regulated the speed of a steam engine by supplying continuous feedback to a controller. This mechanism paved the way for industrial automation and increased safety by removing the need for human intervention in a continuous process.
In a business setting, every stakeholder in a process is a source of feedback. For effective use of the feedback all pertinent information must be assessed. It must then be filtered in such a way as to remove statistical noise and then intelligently applied to inputs. When applied, outputs can (results) be monitored as feedback to supply a control system into the process to provide continuous improvement.
Using Metrics as Feedback
Businesses today exist in a metrics rich environment. A wealth of data is available for sales, costs, defective product, customer satisfaction, and employee process suggestions. Looking into all data available in a process on a regular basis can provide more granular and intelligent findings. These findings can be used to identify trends and point out potential issues before they become critical. This is important because variances in business performance can occur for any number of reasons. Understanding how all processes are effected by change can provide dynamic responses for continuous improvement and provide a smoother overall performance.
CVG Strategy quality experts understand continuous improvement and organizational development and how to set up management systems that can provide vital feedback as a business changes through all phases of development. Contact Us with your questions to see how we can help.