Let’s face it: There is no status quo! If you don’t aim to improve what you do, you get worse! If you don’t look for, and implement new and better ways of working, someone else will take your spot on the dance floor and eventually take your position in the market and go home with the prom queen (or king). If you are an engineer, a project manager or a rock star, getting better means different things, but the steps we need to take: get the idea > plan it > try it out > and implement it are the same. Each phase requires energy and the idea is due to fail if it never gets pushed over the bar and into the next phase .
To help you get over the bar, try to ask your self the following questions:
- Why am I doing things this way?
- How could I do this smarter?
- What do I need to change to do this smarter?
These are the fundamental questions that will trigger the steps to continuous improvement. By keep asking these questions, we have made life easier and work more fun for centuries and they are still the essence of what we call progress and innovation.
Being able to improve is the single most important property of man kind, and it will take us through the challenges we will face in the future.
The compelling need for a lean innovation process
To succeed with your project, it is not sufficient to run a good operation. As implied, it will eventually become the new industry standard, so the best thing you can be good at is CONTINUOUSLY improving the work flows and – methods that will raise the bar of what you thought possible.
Here are my 4 best advises on running an improvement process based on organic innovation, that is; the ideas that come from colleagues within your team.
1. Split your time between running and improving the business
Google is well-known for their 4:1 work week. One day each week is a “drawer” project day. That means that googlers are allowed to work on any project they find interesting. Find your way to release the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of your co-workers and increase job engagement at the same time.
2.Set team objectives
To improve, you need to set directions. What are the direction in which you want to move your business? You can only focus on 3-4 objectives at a time. Typically, I would recommend that you set-up objectives within a couple of categories to avoid any bias and tunnel sight. Imagine a rigid time registration system, which would improve the salary process, but in some work environments would kill motivation.
More on Setting team objectives
3. Engage colleagues in a transparent and visual process
Having the objectives in place and the time to improve is important, but running a smooth idea generation process is equally important. Sticky notes are great for that purpose, but they are just containers. You need to set up a prioritization process to help you answer the question: Which ideas should we implement next? Which ideas takes too long time or has too little impact? And which ideas should we never consider implementing?
4. Follow up on the ideas at every meeting
You can use any surface, as long as you make sure to follow up each improvement idea until it is implemented and you have gained the expected benefits.
More on Following up on ideas
Good luck! I will be happy to hear from you if you want to share your own experiences with continuous improvements. Don’t be a stranger! Remember that ideas and innovation are products of a free mind. Be careful demanding ideas from your colleagues. Instead make sure that they know exactly what to do if they get a good idea in the shower, in the train or anywhere else.
Kristian Steen Holme