The Benefits of a Continuous Improvement Mindset

For businesses of all types and sizes wanting to find ways to grow and maximise their results, a Continuous Improvement approach is a no-brainer.

It’s a simple approach based on positive, incremental, minimally-invasive changes implemented constantly.

It’s a strategy that allows gradual and consistent progress towards your goals, without the daunting task of trying to make sweeping changes, or to “reinvent the wheel”.

It reduces the risk, allowing business owners to test the waters before making big commitments.

You may recall the massive turnaround in Japanese industry back in the 70’s/80’s. Prior to that Japan was seen as a laggard when it came to “quality” manufactured products. They had a bad reputation.

They rose to become a superpower in the manufacturing of high quality motor vehicles and electronic goods. Toyota is a Kaizen manufacturer.

One of the key reasons for this was their adoption after WW2 of a continuous improvement environment… they called it Kaizen, meaning “change for the better”.

One of the key principles is getting people inside your business together, via regular workshops, constantly challenging their immediate work environment by looking to eliminate waste and implementing a series of minor incremental improvement steps regularly.

Its a long game strategy.

It spawned the idea of a healthy business being one that is lean and efficient. versus an unhealthy organization that has lots of waste and inefficiency.

Companies like Toyota became shining examples of how businesses could grow and succeed through an attitude of constant small improvements.

Consumers would (and still do) seek out products made in Japan for their high quality and reliability.

In my experience the approach works just as well in smaller businesses.

By setting small, achievable goals, encouraging input from staff, and working towards improvements, business owners can stay motivated and engaged in the growth and development of their business, while at the same time enhancing the culture of their team through allowing them to more actively contribute to improvements.

It won’t work in every business, because its very dependent on a collaborative leadership style of the owner.

But the approach can help owners stay on top of potential problems, addressing emerging issues before they become major roadblocks, in a way that is less disruptive and destructive than what major overhauls would be to the operations of the business.

It can help to build a culture of innovation and confidence, where employees are empowered to suggest new ideas and take ownership of their work.

In short, continuous incremental improvement is a powerful tool for business owners.

I’ve seen it work very well. Its practical and its largely non-disruptive.

It should be seen as similar to the long term benefits of compound interest, whereby “investing” in small regular increases can lead to huge turnarounds over time.

It’s a strategy that requires leadership and patience by the owner, but the rewards can be significant over time.

Lindsay King

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