The most common errors while implementing continuous improvement is to focus on one small area. Do it in such a way, you are impacting only a portion of your business and not the entire enterprise. It is common to focus on the most visible parts. For example, start with areas with labor-intensive processes or warehousing, where most of the inventory resides. There is nothing wrong with using one problematic zone as the initial focal point. This way, you can earn a big win and use it to promote the initiative. But, focusing on one area should not a permanent strategy.
Focus on one area only affects the impact of the transformation
Your goal is to deliver to your customer the highest quality, at the lowest possible cost, in the shortest possible time. To achieve this goal, you need to focus on your customer needs, ensure flow through the value stream, and create quality products or services. You need the help of all the different components or teams to make this happen.
Focusing on one area, regardless of how problematic it may be, have the immediate effect of perpetuating the silos mentality. You want to promote collaboration and to have people from different departments working together to achieve common goals. Impacting only one department does not improve collaboration, not even when you have a cross-discipline group.
Focusing on anything less than the entire enterprise is missing the opportunity to achieve real changes in flow, quality, and costs that would position your business in a better place than most of your competitors. Let’s face it everybody is happier when the company’s financials are better, and a big impact on those numbers only happens with the participation of all departments.
A narrow focus does not change the culture
If you want to have a permanent change in how things are done and create a new business model, you need to change the culture. This type of change, by definition, has to impact everybody. If you recall, Culture change, lean thinking & people’s development are some of the key elements for a successful lean implementation.
While focusing on one department only, most probably, you are picking a couple of tools or principles only, ignoring those that will help to develop your team. Lean is not about tools; it is about the people. Using new tools for process improvement to obtain quick results is not right. You need to be in the look for people’s development, including your own. When you focus on the team, provides the right environment to learn, explore new ways to do things, and communicate without hesitation, the improvements will come along.
The team needs a common purpose
Knowing how their work connects to the value the company provides to the customer gives your employees clarity to connect their actions with the final results. The new culture will create a team of problem-solvers, people that think differently and are motivated to create.
Continuous improvement as a strategy to improve quality, lead-time, or minimize cost will give you additional benefits when it is implemented in the right way. Other benefits include an increase in customer satisfaction and employee engagement and flexibility to face an unexpected crisis. Implementing this strategy across the house leads to better results.
Start by knowing your current status in detail. What are those big-time issues that are affecting your bottom line the most? Identify your business strengths and weaknesses. Select three to five key objectives, establish a goal, and develop strategies to close the gap. Choose them wisely, use your resources on the most pressing issues. You can impact different areas like quality, cost, delivery, safety, or people development. Break down the strategy into bite-sized plans. Do not forget to include how to deploy the implementation throughout the entire business.