I always say

‘If you are not improving you are going backwards’

And the best signs of an engaged and contributing team is one that has a culture of continuous improvement!

While there are many formal methodologies for improving the concept is simple, and that is.

How do you make tomorrow better than today! In terms of your

  • Strategy
  • Processes
  • People
  • Customers
  • Suppliers

You probably have metrics for all of the above areas and the next few questions you should be asking on a regular basis are

  1. What is not working well that needs to be fixed?
  2. What are you doing too much of that should be minimized going forward?
  3. What are you doing too little of that should be developed going forward?
  4. How can you do things better?
  5. How can you do better things?

And if you are a leader, don’t forget to ask these questions of yourself too..

To maximize this process of continuous improvement, always ensure you get all teams at all levels involved. Bring them along this journey as there are so many benefits to this.

  • Improved engagement
  • Cross collaboration
  • Instant buy in
  • Happier teams – which translates to performing teams
  • Improved customer service

So how are you going to make tomorrow better than today?


The Strategy of Continuous Improvement – Video Transcripts

Hi, Shay Lynch, Director of Future State. Today I’m gonna talk about continuous improvement. As I always keep saying, if you’re not moving forward, you are absolutely moving backwards. Now why continuous improvement? Because everything in your business should be all about improving. Whether it’s from your customer perspective, if you wanna improve your service delivery, whether it’s your leadership, whether it’s your strategy, whether it is your process, whether it’s your people, whether it’s all your business areas and also your suppliers. It is everything to the success and longterm success and sustainability of your business, okay. Now continuous improvement has its roots in the car manufacturing industry, specifically in Japan and if you really wanna go back a step, the people who taught the Japanese after world war II, Deming and Juran. They talked about her PDCA four step process, right? It has evolved since then and there’s many tool kits now like Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Agile, there’s so many of them but they’ve all got the same fundamental principles, and that is how, how do you make it simple? How do you make it better, okay? So no matter what industry you’re in, no matter what process, whether it’s manufacturing, whether it’s service related, the same principles apply the only difference is application and scale. So it applies to all sides of business too, right? So today I just wanna talk about some of the simplest strategies that give the most effective results for businesses, and these are strategies I also use with my customers ’cause they have amazing and value and they get great results, okay. So I wanna talk about process first and I’ll just give an example of me going into a new client or a new area. I know nothing about that place, absolutely not. So my way of learning is to build a process map. I build a process map with the team and I don’t just involve the immediate team, I involved people before them and the people after them in the process, so I’m getting a full coverage of the end to end supply within the business. And sometimes that can absolutely involve your suppliers and your customers depending on what you’re trying to do. But my goal for this is twofold. One, I learn. I build the process, I ask a lot of open questions, right? Two, which is eureka moment for the people I’m working is, it’s the first time they’ve actually seen themselves in a process view because they just always see themselves. I come in, do my job, I go home. I sit in my little bubble in my little chair and they do their work, and they do a good day’s work but they don’t have an understanding whatever they do has a consequence for good or bad down stream. So this is a huge eureka moment. So I would use this as a strategy first to learn, then we look at all the different points along those each step. What’s good, what’s bad, what’s causing issues further down the line, okay. So will you do a current state analysis, that’s what it’s called and we do that. Once we do this exercise, you will not believe how much opportunities come out, just by talking out loud in a group environment. It makes such a difference and some of the new ideas is come straight out of it. So once we do the current state analysis, we build our idea what the future state should look like. So we can then have a good idea of what we do, then we need to build a plan on how we do that. I’ll talk about that in a minute, okay. So building process maps are amazing tools so you can understand where you are today and therefore what you need to do tomorrow. Another tool, so that’s on the brand, that’s on your process, right? At team level, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s strategy team, middle management, senior management, or on the ground. The great Japanese tool. They call it Kai and Zen. Again, I’ve said, this is made up of two words Kai and Zen, change for the good or change for the better. And it’s just simple brainstorming exercise. And there’s many different ways you can do this, right? But it’s structured. Consider yourself when you’re doing this to have maybe one problem you solve or it could be just, let’s get everything off the table. Let’s get all the issues on the table and then see what you’re doing we can actually do something about it that will make a difference. So make sure there’s a structure around what you’re doing. There’s no set particular way it has to be this or that, you decide if it’s a focus point or to general brainstorming, or if it’s a quick fire round. So for example, you’re gonna have a brainstorming session and you have results within five days under brand implemented right? So quick wins. So there’s many different guises you can do this with, but this is a fantastic tool to get improvements. The other fantastic bit about it, you’re getting your team involved, you’re building engagement, it’s their ideas and then once you do that, once you do your idea generation, then you evaluate it. So idea generation, evaluate it, gather some data, see is the work progressing, and if it is, do a pilot, don’t go straight into the live process, do a pilot offline or in a small setting and then if it still has mileage go live and then you give it a lot of TLC in the beginning because while things always sound great offline, when you go into practicality mode, things often change. So just make sure you keep an eye on it and you haven’t added any new risks in the process, but this is another fantastic tool and it’s the tool I use with my customers all the time. When you’ve done it once, you can then put this in the diary for once a month, once a quarter or in some cases, I know companies do it once a week, right. They call it the 20% growth. So this is something that you can do at any level. So this is on the ground. This is at any level, right? Let me talk about feedback. The most important word in business practically is feedback. You cannot measure or you can’t improve what you don’t measure. And then also when you measure, you have to make sure you’re measuring the right things ’cause measurement drives behaviors, and if you measure the wrong things you’ll get the wrong behaviors and the wrong results. So it’s very important to understand, and this talks about key performance indicators, key and not EPI as in every, right. So metrics are extremely important. They can be in process, so you can be saying , you can be going along here and all of a sudden there’s an issue on this step. You should be able to see that in there real time so you can read it act in real time. So it doesn’t keep the process from flowing, it keeps it flowing ’cause at the end of the day, you don’t want your customers to suffer here. So it’s very important you have in process with that real time measurement so you can act, react quickly and get back on track. You don’t wait till the end of the month to find out you had a bad month, you wanna be able to get involved in it ASAP. Then when we talk about in process, real time, you also want trends, okay? So they can be monthly. So there’s a lot of monthly meetings you can have. So all of these data, all the stage in here and feed into your not just monthly metrics, but also then year to date. So you can see trends on sales, on performance, on quality, customer satisfaction. There’s so many ways you can use this feedback to improve on your current position. So understand your feedback, your metrics so you can improve. And again, they relate very much to your process taken and also when you put in something new, you can also the temporary metrics in to see how it’s performing. So these are all very much interrelated right? Another great strategy I like to use once things settle down is issue gathering right? So this can be done in every part of your business. It can be done in sales. So every time a sales rep comes out from a meeting, they can write three or four things of good things where, what worked well in the meeting, or also what didn’t, why did they not get the sale? And then you can use it not for every meeting and every rep did it for every day of every week of every month, at the end of the month, you have amazing data of, one, why did our customers not buy from us? What can we do differently next month to remove those resistance factors? So you have great information that you can do something with, okay. Then what in your day to day activities, what is stopping your team from doing their core value actions? What are they? If you keep gathering them, it’s the same thing. you can then the next period you can eradicate them. So how do you do that? Problem solving. Everything here, these are the first step of the process, then you problem solve them. It’s called structured problem solving and there’s many, many different ways. I’ve done videos on it before so I’m not going to go into this now but the whole point is once you know what’s stopping you, you problem solve. So they don’t stop you anymore. And this is a process every month, you then review out what were the big issues this month? What do we need to focus on next month? And then you go like well, what are the problem solving activities we’re focusing on now? Why would they be implemented? When should we see the improvement? So it’s a simple process of doing this problem solving but they’re all part of the same chain, you can’t do one without the other, you need to do both, okay. So once you have all the issues here, problem solved, get improvements, okay. So with that, just a few more key points I wanna talk about. Everything here I’m talking about, this is a mindset. This should be day to day activity, right? It’s all about building it into the culture of how your business and your teams operate. And the key points that I always like to say, question everything, always question. Don’t just accept. One of the things when I went to a new customer, I ask them, why do you do this? This way or that’s the way we’ve always done it. That’s the answer I get every single time. People are too busy doing, they don’t have time to think, okay. So it’s important to think and question everything to see is there a better way of doing it? And even just that alone, you will get amazing results. So you have to facilitate great ideas even if it’s not in a structured environment on a day to day just so you could put it Kai Zen board or Kai Zen pocket where people can submit ideas even anonymously if they , right. And then your commitment is to evaluate and see does it work piloting and then if so, go live. This will encourage your teams to do and give more ideas. They have knowledge and expertise. So use it, get them involved, when they’re involved, you have instant buy in, okay. So anything you do, once you question everything, things like, can we do better as teams? So when you’re looking at the process, the first question I ask when we’re building that idea the future state at every step, can we do better things? So can we do things better first of all? So how did we do that process step a little bit better? How did we do that one, I want you to exhaust it all those ideas. Then you go, hey, can we do better things? How can you innovate the process? How can you really change things up or shake things up to make it better? Right? And again, this is done at all levels. Whether you’re talking about strategy, whether you’re talking about leadership, senior management middle management, or lower, depending on the size of your business, it’s everywhere. Imagine you had a business that was continuously improving in every part and every level of the business, you are making huge substantial improvements that will protect you from any economic environment, but also like leverage you and leapfrog you into the future with sustainable results. This is phenomenal when you do this correctly if you do this in a structured process right? And the key is you don’t just do it once, this is an iterative cycle. So once you’ve done all these continuous improvement once and this is just a little chart just to demonstrate, so you’re here, you’re starting here at your current state. So CS, current state. So when you’ve made a few improvements here, you get to future state one okay. But now that’s you’re in your current state, So then you go future state two and then all the way three all the way four and if you did this over the course of a year, the cumulative effect is phenomenal and again this is all about protecting your future business. Building a Fort around it so you’re protected no matter what comes at you, whether it’s competition whether it’s tough trading economies you are protecting your business as best as you possibly can and your customers for that matter. So the question I always ask, what are you gonna do? How are you gonna do it? My simple answer is you do, everyone does it every day and everywhere. And my question too, is what are you gonna do to improve on your improvement process? I hope this makes sense. If you have any questions, get in touch in the meantime this is Shay Lynch, thanks for watching.