The Manager’s Role in Continual Improvement
Continual Improvement (CI) can be defined as making changes in processes or systems to improve the ability to fulfill stated requirements. An effective CI process is simply an organized approach to improving processes and reaping the rewards.
In many businesses today the leadership team is saying or thinking “this quality system (ISO 9001, Lean, Six Sigma, et al) stuff just hasn’t yielded the results we expected.” Many businesses are concerned that process and quality improvement efforts have become “bogged down” in bureaucracy. The challenge is to define, implement and sustain a simple CI approach that enables your company to become the low cost, high quality leader in your industry.
As with any other enterprise wide initiative or business system, the support and involvement of top management is critical. This requires more than “lip service.”
How does top management show their involvement? They must:
1) articulate the vision and expectations for CI
2) provide the resources
3) insure that obstacles are removed
4) participate in the process
Top management must be visible participants and ask the right questions. Staying in an office or avoiding the factory floor is not an option for success in any endeavor such as this one. Visibility of top personnel is a key to success. The senior leadership must get involved and be seen by the employees as participants and not as “order givers.” Without this involvement, the efforts will not yield the results that should be achieved.
This is not a complex issue and common sense should prevail. A simple plan that builds on effective management principles and philosophy should not “re-invent the wheel!” The five components of a simple and effective process are:
1. Take Care of the Basics in Your Business
2. Focus on the Processes
3. Eliminate Waste
4. Get it done with Teams
5. Measure the Results