A teacher once announced that there would be a story writing competition and that all students were invited to submit their entries for the same. The teacher would select the best stories and would send these for the competition. John, an ever aspiring student, spent a good part of that evening writing his best story. Feeling proud of himself, he approached the teacher the next day morning and submitted his story. The teacher simply looked at John and asked, “Is this the best you can do?” Taken aback, John said he thought so but would want to give it another shot. He spent that evening going over the story again and rewriting significant parts. He felt much more confident of his entry. Next day he walked confidently to the teacher and handed her the story. The teacher gave it one look and asked, “Is this the best you can do?” Perplexed and disheartened, John said he would try again. This continued for 3 more days. After 3 days when John submitted the story yet again, the teacher asked the same question. John said that this is the best he could do and there is nothing that could be done to improve the story. The teacher said, “In that case, I will read it now”.
Anecdotal but the story has a key learning. The moral of the story is that only the best work should be advanced to the next level. How many organizations do we know of which would live by this philosophy? Most successful companies live by this principle.
Execution excellence is one of the core values at emids. This value is driven by our desire to keep improving continuously keeping in mind that there is always scope for improvement.
Most of the Continuous Improvement methodologies originated in Japan after its defeat in World War II. A key proponent of this philosophy was Dr. Edwards Deming. He taught Japanese businesses to concentrate their attention on processes rather than results; concentrate the efforts of everyone in the organization on continually improving imperfection at every stage of the process. It would take the rest of the world another couple of decades to start embracing kaizen or continuous improvement. The Japanese word for continuous improvement, kaizen, is often used interchangeably with the term continuous improvement. From the Japanese character kai, meaning change, and the character zen, meaning good, taken literally, it means improvement.
Continuous improvement is a method for identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste. Continuous improvement is not something which is done over and above the usual business. By practicing continuous improvement, an organization figures out ways to keep enhancing what it is doing while business continues as usual. There are quite a few methodologies which can help – Six Sigma, Lean, Kanban etc. While the methodology is important as it helps structure the improvements and helps provide tools to improve, it is not sacrosanct to use a standard methodology to improve.
Here are some of the ways that emids can benefit by implementing continuous improvement:
- Increase customer loyalty: a key reason why customers are not returning to business is dissatisfaction with the level of service. What delights a customer today becomes a given expectation tomorrow. Are we able to raise our game continuously will determine if we are able to keep a customer delighted.
- Improve productivity and accountability: it helps employees come up with better and faster ways of doing regular tasks thereby improving productivity. It also helps define or redefine processes to remove waste and provides greater accountability to all stakeholders of the process.
- Improves employee morale: a key reason for employee dissatisfaction is that they do not feel connected to the work that they are doing. Continuous improvement gives employees a chance to evaluate the process and bring in best practices which would help eliminate wasteful processes thereby improving satisfaction levels.
- Improved financial performance: it helps identify sub optimal processes which are causing financial burden to the organization. GE produces annual benefits of over $2.5 billion across the organization from Six Sigma.
We have now taken our first baby steps towards creating a culture which is driven by continuous improvement. This is not for a specific function of the organization, it applies to anyone and everyone associated with our organization. Come, be a part of this culture change, be the first ones to drive an improvement initiative. Remember, we are only limited by our thoughts.
- We are all competent at what we do.
- Let’s aspire to move from competent to good.
- From good to great.
- From great to expert.
- From expert to world-class.
- Look out to the horizon, dream big dreams and find ways to be magnificent.