A definition of Continuous Improvement: from ASQ “The global voice of quality.”
Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.
Gary Hamel in his “Leading the Revolution” says “The single accomplishment of the industrial age was the notion of continuous improvement. It remains the secular religion of most managers……it has reached the point of diminishing returns in incremental improvement programs.”
I like to picture the Industrial Age (its importance highlighted at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony) when the desire for improvement was probably at its peak, when change encouraged further change, desire created stronger desire, excitement generated more excitement as the notion of continuous improvement grew. How exciting must the ‘thinking’ and the ‘doing’ have been?
Being “self-aware” of where you are right now will allow you to set clear goals of where you want to be, what needs to be done, followed by HOW, asking yourself constantly “what needs to be put in place to improve the current situation and HOW will I do it?”
When Sir David Brailsford was coaching the GB Cycling team, his mantra was “small gains and many of them” which inevitably led to continuous improvement.
Every day we will improve something about what we do and how we do it. That really is a mission to work on. How often do we accept things the way they are because the alternative may ‘rock the boat’ or ‘upset someone’?
Doing nothing means we stand still and others (the competition) comes sailing by. The alternative is ‘do something’ and if we are doing something, why not consider improving something?
Do the same tomorrow or next week and we are actually improving many things continuously.