Good businesses are always seeking ways to refine what they do, enhance their profitability, and pursue the most effective route to sustainable growth. World-class operations work to the principle that no process can ever be declared perfect but can always be improved. Improvement, however, is relative and will shift over time – what excellence looks like today will probably have changed by tomorrow.
Continuous improvement (CI) is the endless pursuit to improve products, services and processes, through sound strategy, a focus on customer value and the empowerment of people at every level of the organisation, by continuously assessing ways to improve operations.
The result is a creative mixture of incremental improvement achieved over time, and breakthrough improvement achieved all at once.
The overall CI principle can be simply defined – it is the process through which an organisation works to continually improve all aspects of what it does and how it operates.
Among the most widely used tools for the continuous improvement model is a four-step quality assurance method: the plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle:
Other widely used approaches include Lean, Six Sigma and Agile, which emphasise employee involvement and teamwork while measuring and systematising processes, to reduce variation, minimise defects and improve cycle times. Ultimately, these approaches help to deliver better products and services by facilitating the following:
Exactly what this process looks like will vary from company to company, depending on the industry and the specific challenges they face. However, what marks out a formalised CI plan from a piecemeal approach to incremental change is the willingness to create and implement a unified approach to organisation-wide improvement.
Through its various elements, a CI plan is ultimately designed to embed a culture of self-sustainable improvement in the ongoing pursuit of excellence. This includes:
To achieve the best results, many organisations choose to work with a dedicated business transformation and change management specialist such as Linea, to benefit from external perspectives and best practice expertise.
If implemented correctly, your CI programme will deliver significant benefits to your entire organisation in the short, medium and long term. These include:
For these reasons, continuous improvement in business should be considered a key priority for any organisation, whether you are looking to transform the fortunes of a company in transition or consolidate the success of an industry-leading enterprise.
At Linea, we help businesses to outperform the competition through a continuous improvement process, leveraging our expertise in process improvement and efficiency. Our team utilises operational excellence methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma, EFQM and Agile to drive a continuous improvement cycle, enhancing performance and efficiency across frontline operations and corporate support services.
Our services comprise:
If you would like to learn more about what continuous improvement in business could look like for your organisation, get in touch with the business transformation specialists at Linea today.
You can find out more about how we can help your company to review and transform its operational strategy, or explore our various industries pages to see what kind of continuous improvement advice we can offer for your specific sector. Please call us on +44 (0) 124 442 1095, or complete our contact form to request a call back any time.