Kaizen is a Japanese term for continuous improvement. Continuous improvement plays a vital role in everyone’s personal life. Building a culture of continuous improvement is quite easy. But for that, you need to have an open and broad mind. Many institutes are offering the same culture on pen and paper. However, bringing the thing into practicality is far more difficult. So, how can you imbibe the culture of continuous development in your organization without being a dictator?
However, the answer is not as simple as you think. It takes years of hard work and good leadership to bring this culture. However, once it is imbibed, you need not worry for generations. This is one of the pillars the operations of an organization are based upon. Striving for excellence should never decay. While many organizations opt for drastic changes, small changes over a period help a lot. Bringing a sudden change in an institution affects the morale of the stakeholders. While some may show disappointment, some leave the organization. This is because adapting to a whole new system at once takes much effort. But the same people will feel comfortable if you introduce changes gradually.
So, here are 5 steps to building a culture of continuous improvement and nurturing it forever.
Strive for the end goal
Continuous development is not the end but a journey. It is a journey to the end of the road and that should be your end goal. So, before you implement the culture, you should have a clear goal. Now, goals are always changing based on the needs. But you should have a clear-cut goal in your mind. Furthermore, you need to make sure that the initiative has an end. Many companies implement a process to follow with a goal but eventually changes the goal based on the status quo. The ones who survive and thrive are the ones who have a clear understanding of the goal and how they want to achieve it. Rest all follow the herd and find their performance to be stagnant.
So, for effective implementation, you should ask the following questions. This question will give better clarity to your understanding:
- Key performance indicators of the company – what they should be and how to achieve them?
- Status quo – what is the current state and where you want it to be?
- Annual targets in terms of revenue and potential.
- What behaviors do you want to promote in your organizations?
- Current core competencies of your team
- Future expected competencies of your team
- Type of leadership you want in your company
Once you have figured the answers to these questions, you can jump on to the next step for building a culture of continuous improvement.
Communication of the goal
The most important aspect before implementing is proper communication. You need to communicate your goals and vision to the employees. This provides your employees to receive a sense of belonging and accountability. While this is a great way to refine your targets, it also helps in sorting employees. An organization will only move forward if they share the same vision and mission. And continue to work together to achieve them. It is essential to put the goals in writing as well. This will allow everyone to have access to the mission and little scope to deviate.
Design a framework
Continuous improvement requires a process. A process details the steps to be carried out by every individual and an organization collectively to achieve a target. If you take a look at the Toyota Production System, you will find the world’s finest example of continuous improvement. In Japan, they call it the “Kaizen” principle. Kai stands for continuous and zen stands for improvement. This ideology is prevalent in every Japanese organization where they strive for betterment. Thus, Japanese companies have thrived better in the international market. That’s because they were never happy with the status quo. Some other aspects of Japanese philosophies of continuous improvements are – Plan-Do-Check-Act and six sigma certifications.
Aware your employees
Spreading awareness is very important as continuous improvement is not a natural phenomenon. Educating your employees is an effective way to empower them. This helps you to embark on your journey to the ultimate destination. There are several tools to help to educate your employees. Some of them are visual management, Kanban, and 5S. These techniques are readily available on the internet. However, there are specialists available as well to provide the course and certificate upon completion. This training and education help your employees to align with your ideas for improvements. The training will also help your organization to create leaders to bring together like-minded people on board with your goals.
Help employees to actively participate
Active participation is the essence of continuous improvement. Change is everybody’s responsibility and everyone should actively participate in it. The main reason for any organization to implement continuous improvement is to work the process. If the employees are not willing to participate in the process, their subordinates will also not follow. The major issue the organizations face is the intent. Some of the employees will show negative intent. They will either leave the company or won’t follow the stated processes. Whereas some employees don’t understand the process well. Thus, you must make them aware of the changes and your expectations.
This needs to be stated very clearly so that they can pass on the knowledge to their subordinates and adhere to the process.
So, these are the 5 simple steps to inculcate the sense of Kaizen into your firm. You can always start small and heap up with time. But you need to make sure that you don’t rush into things very soon. It is always recommended that you understand the concept of continuous improvement very well before implementing it.
Lastly, we would like to state that you shouldn’t lose hope. You will find many difficulties in implementing your thought process. But you need to have the communication skills to make your team understand why this process is required. And why everybody needs to follow that.