Continuous Improvement Culture for any organization is the foundation for its processes, systems, business model and its capabilities to innovate. Best transformative innovations come from incremental, sustainable changes to processes and rarely as bolts from the blue. Working on the ideas of all members of the corporate teams allows progressive improvements that finally drive a company to significant business results.
Lead from the Front
The ability to sense and then analyse for an opportunity is what leaders need to possess. To lead is to understand what is required from the company and the ecosystem and it would be crucial for them to change the inertia of teams that were delivering their basic service levels. Leading the change for various functions with deep insights on what they were doing, is the basis of continuous improvement. That is where you see an opportunity and take actions to implement policies and processes that transform the culture, creating one that enhances the organizational value. The other approach is reacting to the standard industry best practices and capturing them, without embedding these into internal processes. This adds only a superficial value to the organization and almost no value to the human morale.
Leading requires quick assessment of a situation and the ability to develop a customized CI approach, structuring it in a way that optimizes and deliver value to the organization.
Developing a CI culture within an organization
To be able to run a high level of CI culture, originations need to run it through a well-structured programme. Here, subsets of the workforce need to be mobilized into a CI base for that operation, by creating a wave that runs for about four to five months within the cluster, inculcating all the values of CI into that workforce. This includes getting all the management of that subset workforce aligned to the purpose behind it, get them trained, run boot camps, give them an overview with awareness, and then launching it with identifying the CI champions. These champions are essentially people who come from the operations and are strongly aligned to CI coaches. There should be a hierarchy in terms of capabilities, where CI coaches should be on the top of the pyramid, followed by the champions who will be trained by these coaches. Imperatively, champions will take the next steps to inculcate their knowledge to the ground level basis the field of operations.
This is the wave that will continue to instil various capabilities of CI, which include understanding the customer, introducing surveys and feedback insights and thus they are setting the direction on the new process maps. Some of the tools that can aid in the process are ICUKU, the fishbone diagram, the A3 or the JDI and enable the workforce to provide solutions to a particular problem. Finally, it’s also about the behaviours of the team managers and how they should be operating in a CI. Nonetheless, there should be clarity on league operations and effective job structures.
CI, being the amalgamation of varied instilled capabilities, new ideas could be funnelled into a portal for their lifecycle management and relevant implementation. Once implemented, these ideas deliver benefits- first smaller and sparse, then in bigger volumes as they accumulate.
Clearly, as the processes improve, rework requirements will reduce since the errors will be much less along with a positive business impact. This aims to drive a P&L and cash revenue impact for more margins. To give this value addition roots, it is also vital to certify competencies that come to fore in these ideations, thus getting meatier performance management gains. Tangibly, on the floor, it is the form of a performance dashboard or benefits coming through. In the end, it is all focused on improving the operational trigger of the organization, in an amplifying impact.
Suggestive strategy for CI
Dedicated CI teams should be demarcated to create a structured topology working on a systematic approach to continuous improvement. As per the industry updates of a CI driven agile organization, the following pillars requires to be inculcated for a better organizational strategy.
Understanding the business: The stakeholders, and customers' input, if processes are performing as per requirement, and how the feedback can be captured.
Setting a direction for the common goal: There is a clear operating model with usable tools and a distinct business strategy with measurable outcomes to be set for the team, aggregated at the function and the business services strategy level.
Problem-solving: Structuring an approach to fix the issues and equipping the teams with the knowledge and skills to solve problems, team-wise.
Behavior and capabilities: Having the right kind of environment, identifying the right resources, managers and the right behavior for CI to take into effect, so it can work on how to solve a problem with a 360-degree view of the entire ecosystem
Leveraging CI to keep Teams going during the current COVID situation
Currently, the situation that industry is facing, needs a robust CI process more than before. It is now imperative for enterprises to streamline the business or at least run the basic operations without any interruption. To achieve that, there needs to be a deeper understanding of people and processes, which can allow an understanding of how they can be managed agile and efficiently– remotely. In the current crisis when remote teams are becoming the new norm, and it is easier to evolve a CI strategy with virtual dashboards, virtual huddles, digital automations, and tools which enhances productivity.
Clearly, the focus today is not to innovate as much as to have the ability to continue business, deliver the promise and value to the customers without any interruption. So, the process of CI can be the biggest support for such a situation, if it has been internalized and integrated with the processes. Amending the CI approach to sustain virtually is the need of the hour. It is about delivering the business, with the involvement of teams, because they are the business drivers. Continuous Improvement enables teams to use tools and techniques even while working remotely to sustain processes and continue to deliver the values to the business. The ability to identify pain points can help companies point out challenges being faced for teams working remotely- colleagues struggling to connect, or finding it hard to work from home. They could be facing issues around connectivity, or balancing work and personal lives at the moment.
In fact, the ability to sustain business in this crucial time, and continue to serve the customers, will be the biggest strength of a retail company like ours. It is the time to tap into knowhow virtually, to re- calibrate processes and systems, change their approach and even change their strategy, because the need of the hour is the agility to react, adapt and still be able to sustain in performance and value.
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