Continuous Improvement: Improving Processes At Work
Do you begin every year determined to lose weight? Do you then start a crash diet hoping to drop 10…
September 23, 2020 | 3 mins read
Do you begin every year determined to lose weight? Do you then start a crash diet hoping to drop 10 kg in two months but abandon your goals quickly?
Here’s the thing: there are no shortcuts to meeting your goals. Taking drastic steps to achieve immediate results isn’t always helpful. What you need is a bit of Kaizen in your life.
What’s that? Kaizen is a Japanese term for the practice of continuous improvement through small incremental steps which then become a habit.
Sounds simple, right?
Every professional knows about the work process. No business can achieve success or withstand cut-throat competition without improving processes. If organizations only pay attention to final product delivery, clients, and market demand, internal growth will stagnate and employees will feel stifled.
Research shows that if an organization invests financial and other resources in internal growth and skill-building of employees rather than just focus on the work process, employees will have greater work satisfaction. Hence the attrition rate will be low.
The work process has to be restructured sometimes for a smoother flow of production. These processes work because they are scientifically sound and strategically designed. Without an extra effort by the management on improving processes, an organization can suffer in the long run.
Kaizen is a Japanese term associated with workflow streamlining and means continuous improvement. It is mainly focused on gathering momentum for workflow acceleration by eliminating hindrances. Continuously improving the processes work in a non-threatening manner is the goal.
The Kaizen philosophy covers the professional, personal, and social way of life, all of which deserve continuous improvement. The Kaizen method achieves improvement through little steps rather than drastic changes.
The concept of Kaizen, first introduced in manufacturing industries in Japan soon after World War II, looks at improving processes while reducing waste. This style of lean or agile work process has become popular in different industries over the years.
To start the cycle of continuous improvement, you must identify the problem areas. Look at the rate of production to identify the element of waste which may be slowing down the processes work.
Let’s look at an example. If one of every 10 products is defective and there have been bad customer reviews, you identify the reason first and then turn to find a solution.
If one of 10 products is defective, something must be wrong either on the assembly line. You need to observe the work process carefully to identify the issue. If the machinery is defective, you can plan to fix it to solve the problem.
Once the plan is in place, the next step for continuous improvement is execution. Looking at a few options, bouncing off some ideas, and then going ahead with the best plan with minimum waste is the way forward. If a machine is defective, it is best to fix it and check the others as well.
The final step before continuing with the work process is reviewing the changes. After the machinery is fixed, it is essential to schedule periodic checks by the engineer to ensure that it will not cause any more glitches in the production process.
You can also use Kolb’s Learning cycle for improving processes through a four-step program. A learner, according to American educational theorist David Kolb, passes through four stages. The learner first experiences a situation, a problem, or a work process; Then they start reflecting on it in depth. After gaining some insight, the learner creates an abstract concept about the subject. This step is similar to planning.
After gathering data, observation, and creating a rough plan, the learner applies these learnings to the situation. The final stage is trying out what you have learned through active experimentation for improving processes.
Harappa Education offers a course called Learning Expertly that can help with continuous improvement and improving processes smartly to maximize efficiency in the workplace.