We had an interesting discussion on a recent training course about how continuous improvement within a department can be supported.
One manager on the course was implementing a Kaizen Programme and his main concern was that the structure of the organisation, and especially his team, might not be supported sufficiently well to implement and maintain a continuous improvement process.
I made some notes and shared it later with the group. Here are my ideas; see if they would work for you.
1) It firstly needs support from top management, with a commitment to providing the resources that drive improvement at all times. Without this commitment, it may be a dead duck before you start.
2) The culture of the team and the whole organisation has to support continuous improvement. If there are any obstacles (people, systems, processes, etc.), you will find it difficult to maintain any
3) The trust levels between everyone involved has to be very high. This means managers have to deliver on their promises to their teams, so everyone is fully committed to changes that have to be made.
4) Continuous support has to be given by management. This would involve facilitating action groups, providing coaching and training, and offering different levels of support at an individual level.
5) Processes of measurement and evaluation have to take place vigorously. Without these, people will not get the necessary feedback to know how the improvement programme is being assessed, and what they can do to support the mechanisms of success.
6) The team must function as a learning hub. The managers have to enable this learning to be applied, so everyone can appreciate what needs to happen to support improvement. Without a learning culture, you will be running through treacle!
7) Each improvement needs some kind of recognition and reward. This doesn’t have to be monetary, but needs to be worthwhile so everyone can see the benefits of applying themselves to providing the
conditions to support continuous improvement.
We discussed that Kaizen should always be a part of the culture, and not seen as a short-term campaign that will fizzle out when attention is placed on something else. Don’t view it as a ‘program’ that we are going through; see it as a ‘way of working’ that everyone can and should subscribe to every day. That way, you encourage support and an attitude of Kaizen that creates a great working environment.