Everything is Changing
The world in which we operate is changing almost daily… Technology is continuously changing … The workforce is changing … The environment is changing … Legislation is changing … Customer requirements are changing … The competition is changing … Globalization has made the world a smaller place and while access to information and new technologies have become easier, this is equally true for customers’ access to alternative suppliers. Since many of these changes are not necessarily within your direct control, the question to ask yourself is what to do when everything is changing ? The reality is that the only way to effectively respond and ensure that you remain relevant and stay ahead of the pack, is to continuously improve.
Here are ten guidelines to help you get started:
- Discard conventional, fixed ideas about how to do things. Everything and anything should be questioned. Why do we do this? Is it necessary? Is it worthwhile? Why are we doing it this way? How can we do this differently? Is there a more convenient way to do this? Is there a faster way to do this? Is there a better way to do this?
- When someone comes up with a new idea, think of how to do it, rather than why it cannot be done. Sometimes making a little tweak in an idea makes it a lot more doable. Playing with the idea can also lead to even more and even better ideas!
- Create the right culture. One in which there is no excuse for not continuously improving the way you do your job. One in which energy is not wasted on allocating blame. One in which it is safe for people to experiment and where they are encouraged to do so, even when they do not achieve their desired end result.
- Do not seek perfection. Begin to make improvements immediately, even if for only 50% of the target. Any improvement, no matter how small, is a movement in the right direction. A process improvement resulting in reducing the cycle time by 1 second or a cost reduction of 1 cent may appear small and insignificant when considered in isolation, but when it applies to an item where you buy a quantity of one million every month, you have just achieved a R10,000 cost saving. If you continue to buy that same part for the next five years, you would have saved R600,000! A number of small improvements can quickly add up to a significant improvement.
- Correct issues immediately when things go wrong. Make sure that you set the right example for your team on how to behave when things go wrong. Always work with facts. Focus on what went wrong, how we fix it now and how issues can be prevented from recurring. Never waste time on finger pointing – it should be us against the problem, not us against each other.
- Gain wisdom from facing hardship. Make sure that the effort is not wasted, by learning something from it.
- Address root causes and not symptoms. Preventative actions will not be effective if they do not address the real root cause.
- Involve many people and do not try to do it all yourself.
- Remember that opportunities for Continuous Improvement are infinite.
- Enjoy the process and have fun!
No matter the business and industry you find yourself in today, it is critical to your survival to always remain uncompromisingly focused on serving the needs of your customers. Never stop listening to your customers (current and potential) and continuously evolve your product and service offering to stay ahead of the pack.