Using reflection to learn

You can use reflection to learn from your mistakes.

Do you remember the last time you felt defeated?  How did you feel after making a mistake?  Perhaps you felt angry, upset, or fearful.  How did you react?  What did you do after that mistake?  The way you respond during the heat of the moment is significant.  However, what you do after, is what is even more critical.  In continuous improvement, we use reflection to learn from our mistakes.  

Get in the habit of analyzing your mistakes.

I read an article from Justin Bariso regarding an online course he took from Garry Kasparov.  Kasparov is a chess strategist who uses reflection to learn from his mistakes.  Bariso indicated in this article that there is one lesson from Kasparov that stands out.  The lesson is that to improve at anything, you must get in the habit of analyzing your mistakes.

He recommends that the next time you commit a blunder, you should take some time to analyze it.  The analysis should start with asking yourself the following questions.

  • Why did I react the way I did?
  • What may I have misunderstood or have gotten wrong, especially in the heat of the moment?
  • What would I change if I could do it again?
  • What could I say to myself next time that would help me think more clearly?

Why using reflection to learn from your mistakes?

Making mistakes is part of our lives.   For that reason, we better learn how to deal with them.  When you are a leader, it is paramount to learn from those mistakes.  Moreover, to learn from the way we reacted to those mistakes.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those around you.  EI skills are a characteristic of good leaders and kaizen facilitators.  The reason is that people with a healthy amount of EI recognize their feelings and learn how to react to them.  Also, they understand how those feelings can affect other people.  

In a continuous improvement culture, you achieve your goal, or you learn.  There is no losing, and a reflection is a learning tool.  Kasparov’s provided a guide to learn from your emotions.  The answer to those questions will help you understand why you reacted that way and how you could do it differently next time.  This reflection will help to learn more about yourself and how you deal with your emotions.  Your top job is to guide and support your team.  Knowing your mental state will support your efforts to motivate and keep your team engage in the continuous improvement process.

Using reflection to learn from your mistakes and emotions

The truth is that reflecting upon your emotions is also a tool to guide your growing process.  It does not have to stop with our feelings after making a mistake.  I found that in our quest to be better human beings, it helps to learn how we react to some situations.  

For instance, we can learn to understand and deal with impatience, fear, anger, sadness, and others. Moreover, why do we feel joy and happiness from some activities?  In conclusion, through reflection, we can evaluate and learn from our mistakes and feelings.  Both things will help us to be better professionals and human beings.

How to promote innovation, a must-know for leaders.

Leaders must know to promote innovation and the attitude to never stop exploring, learning, and growing.

Innovation is crucial for the success of any organization.  Finding out-of-the-box ways to improve the operation or satisfied your customers can give you a competitive edge over your competitors. Innovation can produce a new product or service.  It can also help you to empower your team.  Regardless of the purpose, creative thinking is a must.  Given the competition out there, leaders need to know how to promote innovation as part of the daily processes.

To promote innovation, develop your team’s skills.

To empower the team, leaders need to ensure they have what they need.  How do they know what skills to develop?  Some skills, like problem-solving or data visualization, are easy to recognize, but others are not.  If you are not sure, go to the best source for this information.  Ask your team member what do they need for success?  What skills or knowledge do they like to develop?  Then, evaluate if the request is reasonable or worth the resources. Finally, approve the request or work with them to find a solution that fits their needs and aligns with the company goals.

Create a safe place to learn.

One of the rules for a kaizen event is to create a safe place to learn, voice ideas, and test their hypothesis.  A safe environment is fundamental for a learning experience.  Employees are more likely to engage in the problem-solving or creative process when they feel safe.  Creating such a place is one-way servant leaders show that they care about their team. The absence of fear of losing their job or retaliation is critical for innovation.  

Even when there is no fear of losing their job, exposing themselves to failure is a deterrent.  Although in continuous improvement, you win or you learn, it feels like a failure if you don’t get what you expected. To change that, leaders will need to step up and model the expected behavior.  

Promote innovation modeling the expected behaviors.

They can model them in two different ways.  First, they can show how to react when they face failure.  Great leaders do not hesitate to show their vulnerabilities.  Leaders make mistakes like everybody else.  When people see the boss has fears or insecurities about following his ideas but do it anyway, they feel good.  It is that aha moment when they realize that their boss is human and feels fear like they do.  

The second way to model correct behavior is by demonstrating the expected reaction when things turn out differently than expected.  During those times, it is normal to feel defeated or upset.  However, it is the reaction to that feeling what counts.  Instead of roaming your sadness or anger, good leaders show their team that it is ok not to win all the time.  Ask your team how they feel and let them vent their emotions.  

After that moment of relief, reset the mindset by showing them how to reflect on the lessons learned. With those learning on hand, adjust the plan and test it.  Moreover, show them to never stop exploring, learning, and growing!  

Ask without telling, the art of asking questions

To make good questions and help your team to develop their problem-solving skills, you need to know how to ask without telling.

One thing that everybody does every day is asking questions.  We ask questions to learn, clarify doubts, or obtain information.  As a leader, you ask questions to learn about a situation.  Also, you make questions to guide your team on their learning process.  However, are you asking or disguising your solutions as questions?  To promote a learning environment, leaders need to ask without telling.

Sometimes a leader needs to tell

Leaders have the responsibility to communicate, set direction, and provide a purpose.  To accomplish them, they tell information and share news or concerns with their team.  Moreover, there are times when they need to set direction.  Sometimes, there is a need to change a strategy or adjust a plan.  When that happens, the leader tells the group what the change is and why it is needed.  Also, how it will affect them and the new expectations.  During these situations, telling is the right thing to do.

Another responsibility of leadership is to teach and coach their team.   The objective is to transfer knowledge and create capabilities.  While facilitating the learning process, leaders tell new information.

Finally, sometimes leaders need to advise people.  It is common to share previous experiences or tell a story to illustrate a point.  If that is the case, say what you are trying to do, do not hide it behind questions.  The best leaders are humble and compassionate.  There is nothing wrong with showing your humanity by using past experiences to illustrate a point.

Why do you need to ask without telling?

A servant leader’s job is to develop more leaders by teaching, motivating, facilitating, and supporting the team.  By asking questions without telling, they promote learning.  Also, their team’s confidence in their ability to solve problems and create more value grows.  As their confidence grows, their participation in the improvement process grows as well. 

A critical step to change the culture is to empower the people.  While asking questions with respect, leaders guide them to find answers by themselves.  By allowing people to use their brains and participate in the daily management processes and innovation, they feel more engaged with their work and happier when they come back home.  

How can you ask without telling?  How to ask better questions?

When you ask questions that people can answer with a simple yes or no, they don’t put too much effort. Closed questions do not lead to engagement or promote thinking.  When you don’t receive answers, the next thing you do is telling people what to do.  On the other hand, with open questions, people need to think.  Use the 5W and 1H to ask questions.  That is, reframe your questions using who, what, where, when, why, and how.

To keep the brain’s wheels turning, ask one question at a time and give people time to think.  In general, we are not comfortable with silence.  Therefore, right after asking something, people jump to tell their answer.  To be successful in asking without telling, you will need to become comfortable with silence.

Sometimes it is easier to ask closed questions.  Therefore, you would need to stop and think about how to reframe it as an open question.  There are two questions that I used often.  The first one is, what makes you think that way? or ” What do you think we can do differently?”  The second question I often used is, “How do you think we can accomplish that? 

Ask without telling that is what we should do.

Contrary to common perception, leaders are not supposed to have all the answers.  However, very often, they have ideas or solutions to share with the team.  During those times, tell the group that you want to share something with them.  You can always tell people, here is a suggestion and then ask how they can improve it.  Do not hide answers using questions.  Let people think, promote learning and problem-solving skills.

By telling, leadership is not fulfilling their responsibility of teaching and coaching.  Once again, this is a stop-and-think situation.  Think about your idea, do you have any doubts about it?  What parts of it need fine-tuning?  Use your doubts or unknown parts to ask open questions.

A continuous improvement culture seeks to foster a learning environment.  Servant leaders teach, motivate, facilitate, and support their teams.  Show them that you care by helping them to develop their skills and grow.  Learning how to ask questions without telling is a way to achieve that.

What are the characteristics of a kaizen facilitator?

Some of the characteristics of a kaizen facilitator are excellent communication skills, emotional intelligence skills, and being courageous.

Kaizen events are an integral part of the continuous improvement culture.  The success of those events depends on many factors, such as the characteristics of the kaizen facilitator.  This person is responsible for leading the event, among other things.  Experience leading events and continuous improvement knowledge are not the only characteristics that a facilitator needs.  What are the characteristics of a kaizen facilitator?

Characteristics of a kaizen facilitator

Whether you are looking to hire or contract, the following are most haves’ characteristics.  The facilitator must be courageous.  In other words, a person who is comfortable having difficult conversations and asking tough questions.  While being brave in the name of the event’s success, a coach is respectful and supportive.

Whether you are looking to hire or contract, the following are most have characteristics.  The facilitator must be courageous.  In other words, a person who is comfortable having difficult conversations and asking tough questions.  While being brave, a coach is respectful and supportive.

Communication is another soft skill that is critical for success.  The ability to convey information in a clear, simple, and concise way.  A person who practices active listening and can do so with people of different levels in the organization or levels of education.  If they cannot explain something in simple words, it will not translate knowledge effectively.  Explain something complicated without too many technical words is an elusive skill for many.

Emotional intelligence skills are another characteristic of a kaizen facilitator

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence recognize and understand their feelings and how they can affect other people. The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions.

A facilitator must motivate, make others feel comfortable, overcome challenges, and manage conflict. Therefore, the ability to understand and manage their emotions to influence others in positive ways is critical.  Social skills such as interpersonal relationships with empathy, compassion, and humility are essential for this job.  With them, the facilitator will be coaching others to learn and be their best self.

For instance, understanding human psychology and change management are key to influence people and drive a successful event.  An honest and trustworthy individual who gives people credit for their ideas will navigate through the challenges of the event with greater chances of success.

A facilitator must have technical skills

A continuous improvement facilitator without technical skills and lean knowledge is not a good bet. Knowledge about continuous improvement and proven practical experience is non-negotiable.  Moreover, problem-solving, time management, organization skills, and team building are also crucial.  An energetic and passionate about continuous improvement person is the ideal driver for the cultural transformation from traditional to continuous improvement, one kaizen at a time.  

How do you overcome resistance?

Every transformation effort will face resistance.  An effective plan can help to overcome most of it.

Every transformation effort will hit the resistance wall sooner or later.  In general, in the beginning, your team will be divided following the 20/60/20 rule.  The rule states that approximately 20% will be happy to participate, 60% will watch from distance, and another 20% will resist the change.  

How to handle resistance with each group

Those who are happy to participate, or at least try, are your golden group.  They can help to spread the enthusiasm.  The resistance group will actively work as roadblocks.  They will oppose every idea and maybe even try to convince people to stop or delay progress.  

Focus your efforts on the 60% group.  With the right transformation plan, you can influence this group and have them participating in the transformation.  Treat the first group as your advocates and helpers.  With the participation of these two groups, things will start to get traction.  Eventually, they will convince most of the resistance group.  

Use the transformation plan to overcome resistance

While there are no magic bullets, an effective plan will help address some situations that cause resistance.  For example, explain what will change, the reason for the change, and how it will happen.  

A critical part of the transformation is the communication plan.  Think who, when, and how to break the news.  Start saying why the culture needs to change.  Explain the reason to invest time and resources into a conversion of the company mindsets and methods.  Be open and honest about those reasons. Also, be transparent about the challenges ahead.  Moreover, explain in detail what the goal is, what do you want to achieve.  In other words, try to answer all the possible questions before they become a source of resistance.

Build your plan around the team needs

Your team is the most critical resource in the journey from traditional to continuous improvement. Assess the gaps between the skills and knowledge your team need and currently has.  Talk about education and training.  For instance, cite examples of training needs and how you will close the gap.

Changes are stressful, remove a bit of anxiety by presenting the big picture, a high-level view of the roadmap to success.  Present how success looks like, what the expectations are.  Monitor the execution of each step of the plan and report back to the team how things are going.  Be honest about what is working and what is not.  Reflect with the group about lessons learned and celebrate together every win regardless of how big or small.

Your people are the heart of your business, the most valuable asset.  When you take care of them, they take care of your customers.  Keep the focus on providing them all the support and guidance they need throughout the transformation.  Listening to their concerns and act upon those things that you can improve is critical for a successful transformation.

What can derail your transformation effort?

what can derail your transformation

Currently, I am planning a complete site assessment.  It is a preliminary step before the creation of the transformation roadmap.   While working on it, I couldn’t help but remember an experience I had various years ago.  During that time, I was the leader of the continuous improvement transformation. Despite my best effort, it was not successful.  What did I do wrong?  Where did we fail as a team?  Some years passed and quite some reflection time as well before I realized what derailed that effort.  What can derail the transformation?

Not understanding what you are getting into might derail your transformation.

There are various misconceptions regarding continuous improvement.  As a result, many entrepreneurs decide to start their journey believing some of them.  For instance, many times, the reason to initiate the effort is cited as costs reduction.  Here are some misconceptions that can derail the transformation.

Continuous improvement is not a cost reduction initiative.  Furthermore, it is not a tools supermarket where you can pick and choose what you like.  CI or lean is not a one-size-fits-all approach.  It is different for each company, even for each site.  The transformation is not fast or straightforward.  For instance, it is a slow process with moments of success followed by setbacks. Also, it is common to have times with total clarity of purpose followed by thousands of doubts.  The lack of understanding of all these facts soon will become challenges that leadership is not prepared to deal with.

To overcome the inevitable challenges, leadership needs to understand that lean is a people’s system. CI is not about using tools.  The company culture needs to change its focus from financial profit to their people’s development and customer satisfaction.  The transformation from traditional to continuous improvement requires being humble and courageous.  It is not easy to be vulnerable and willing to expose your weaknesses as a leader.  Neither is to let go of the control of the day-to-day operation.  

Misalignment between company goals and continuous improvement

Traditionally, company goals are different for each department.  Therefore, each team member will work towards department goals that do not promote collaboration.  This type of goal perpetuates the silo mentality, which is a CI thinking killer.

In a continuous improvement environment, the goal is to provide the customer with the highest quality, at a lower cost, in the shortest amount of time.   For that reason, the collective goals focus on productivity, quality, cost, delivery time, safety, and morale.  People from different departments collaborate to achieve those goals.    

Not having the top leadership buy-in will derail the transformation

The buy-in and support from leadership are key for a successful CI journey.  Their support is critical to building the CI fundamentals into the company culture.  Alignment between KPI’s and metrics with the company goals is crucial for success.  Leadership is responsible for ensuring this happens, and therefore CI focus will be the right one.  

A unified front from this group will help overcome the challenges, setbacks, and resistance to change. One of their responsibilities will be to learn the continuous improvement fundamentals and tools and teach their team. They become students and teachers, modeling the new behaviors and focusing on long-term strategy instead of day-to-day decisions.

Conclusion

Knowing what can derail your company’s culture transformation is the first step to avoid those mistakes.  Educate yourself and your team before starting your journey.  Learn about the elements for a successful continuous improvement transformation.  Perhaps, it is a good idea to find a responsible and CI transformation seasoned person to help.

Develop your people first and motivate participation

develop your people

For a successful cultural change from traditional to continuous improvement, the CEO or company owner leads the way.  It does this by ensuring some actions are taken.  One of them is to develop your people first and motivate participation.

The mission of continuous improvement is to develop team skills.  Teaching and coaching the team to help them reach their maximum potential is a way to show respect.  Respect for the people is at the core of lean thinking.  Also, it is one of the top three characteristics of the right work environment for CI success.  

Develop your people

One of the lean thinking principles is that the people doing the work design it and solve their problems. The leaders guide the team by respectfully asking questions.  They teach them problem-solving and data analysis tools and support them in providing resources and removing roadblocks.  In other words, the leaders are now coaches, not bosses.  The most senior leader coach his or her team, while they do the same with their teams.  

To develop your people, start by giving them a purpose

Each one of your employees needs to know how their work affects the company’s bottom line.  Let them know how they contribute to achieving the company mission and vision.  That is to say, give them a purpose.  Learning new skills will be critical to fulfilling their part.

Link the company Vision and Mission statements to the continuous improvement activities.  For instance, link them to the company goals and objectives.  Continuous improvement is not a project. Instead, it is part of everybody’s daily work.   Therefore, participation in CI efforts and training should be part of the performance review program.  Ensure that these things are communicated, discussed, and explain to everybody.

Communicate the development plan and motivate participation

Build a team to work on tying together communication, training, participation, and employee’s performance.  The objective is to define and clarify responsibilities, set expectations, and incentivize participation.  This team is responsible for reviewing the job descriptions, performance system, and incentive program.  Also, they are in charge of creating a suggestion program.  

An important piece to motivate participation is training tailored to the company and industry.  A good trainer will design the training based on the audience and their preferred learning method.  Lean is about learning by doing.  In the process, it provides enough theory to support the hands-on activities.  

Peoples’ development and participation

A continuous improvement culture is a learning culture.  Learning by doing is one of its tenets.  Another one is to formulate theories for problem-solving or improvement.  Following the scientific method, those theories will need to be tested.  The success of this process (PDCA) lies in the understanding that it is ok to make mistakes.  It requires effective communication and trust between leadership and teams.  

The leadership team has to work with their leader to communicate, train, motivate and clarify alignment between objectives and actions.

 

Buy-in and support from leadership is key for changes

buy-in and support is key for cultural transformation from traditional to lean

The business owner or top leader leads the change in company culture from traditional to continuous improvement. However, to achieve it, he or she needs the buy-in and support of the leadership team. That condition is one of the key elements for the continuous improvement success.

How to gain the buy-in and support

The first step in this journey is to get the support of your leadership team.  Start explaining why the change is necessary.  Be honest and provide data to support your intention.  Also, communicate the purpose of the transformation.  What do you want to achieve?  Explain the process you will follow to achieve the goal.  

Be clear about the expectations through the journey.  Provide the team with a top-level explanation.  For example, explain expected behaviors, like showing respect, learning, and teaching new skills.  

These conversations are an excellent place to start modeling those behaviors.  For instance, show how to do active listening and be patient.  You and your team will go through the same learning experience.  It is ok not knowing and be vulnerable.  Your clarity and honesty regarding the reasons are a good selling point, but the best will be the fact that you will participate along with them on this journey.  It is much more difficult not to try to do something when the boss is willing to try first.

What is in it for them?

Present the team the benefits of a continuous improvement culture.  a couple of gains are more engaged employees and less turn-over rate.  A stable and motivated workforce means more brains thinking in solutions.  Therefore, leadership would have more time to engage in strategy rather than firefighting.  

Another benefit is creating a learning enterprise where the entire team works together to provide better services or products.  As a result, the company could grow to expand to new markets.  Another possibility is to offer new products or services.

But also talk about the challenges ahead.  Prepare the group to have setbacks and frustrations.  The continuous improvement journey is about changing behaviors and attitudes engrained in the company’s soul.  That task is not easy.  Neither is to learn and teach at the same time.  By doing this, leaders will feel vulnerable, and that is again everything they know.  But, if you are willing to do it, they should be as well.

Buy-in and support leads to collaboration

The journey to transformation starts with explaining the need to change.  As the top leader, you are responsible for aligning purpose, process, and people.    Your job is to provide clear information and answer questions.  Also, to listen, provide direction, teach, coach, and remove barriers.   

Remove barriers means provide resources and make high-level decisions.  Unfortunately, it also means letting go of those leaders who are not willing to change their behavior.  Of course, that would be the last alternative after trying to change their minds.

With a clarity of purpose, process, and intentions, the team should be ready to start working together in this adventure.  Share with them the key elements for a successful continuous improvement or lean implementation.  Those elements are building blocks for the new work environment.  For instance, knowing them from the beginning could help to understand the journey ahead.  

Innovation and continuous improvement

Some people think that continuous improvement or lean conflicts with innovation.  In other words, that lean kills innovation.  However, that is not true both go hand in hand.  Let’s see how.

The power of innovation within continuous improvement

One critic about continuous improvement that I heard often is that the structure does not allow creativity.  CI indeed organizes the thinking process and has some core elements that are not negotiable.  On the other hand, it promotes skills development as a way to show respect.  And it is there where the innovation power of lean or continuous improvement resides.

How it works

To be able to empower your team, you need to develop the skills they need.  Hand-on training to learn the tools is not enough to succeed.  Self-discipline to behave and think the continuous improvement way is critical.  The structure provided by tools like PDCA and 5S helps to build that discipline.   

For example, the traditional way to solve problems is by using past experiences to guess the best solution.  But with PDCA, you have to define the problem by going where the problem happens to see for yourself, ask questions, and gather data.  It also uses promotes a team approach.  Various minds working together enriches both the problem definition and countermeasures identification.  

The most important lesson of PDCA occurs at the end of the process.  During the last step, act or adapt, you verify if the actions taken solved the problem.  It also encourages you to reflect upon the results, what work, and what didn’t.  The discussion of the lessons learned opens the gates of innovation by opening minds to endless opportunities.

Reflection

Reflection generates learning by making us look at our actions and their consequences.  Doing this requires looking at assumptions and reactions while examining the lessons learned.   The act of reflecting upon our actions also help to develop creative thinking skills.  

Once your mind starts to question how things work or how you can do it better, you will keep looking for answers.  Curiosity is the source of invention.  Being curious about things keeps your mind sharp on what happens or not.  Being curious opens your eyes to new ideas.

Engagement and innovation 

Boredom is a leading indicator of engagement.  Doing the same thing every day is boring.  And boredom kills engagement and consequently innovation.  They have time to think about how much they don’t like their work and start looking for a new one.  On the other hand, if they feel that their skills are valued and can visualize themselves growing with the company, their engagement increases.

One tenet of continuous improvement is to respect the people.  One way to show respect is to provide the environment and opportunities to learn new skills.  Being able to contribute to the company’s future in a meaningful way is a great motivator.  It will not only improve their work performance but also their attitude towards life.  A team member that finishes the workday feeling good about it will arrive home with much better humor.  Therefore, family time will be as rewarding and positive as it should be.

A mind free of work concerns and frustration is a mind ready to create and innovate!

Conclusion

CI does not restrict thinking.  On the contrary, it provides a way to standardize routine tasks, allowing time and energy to use their talents and creativity.  When they have the power to change and improve their workplace, they will engage in finding ways to improve.  With self-discipline, they will pursue daily small improvement steps.  With each step, their curiosity will grow.  And with it, the appetite for asking why and getting answers with data will grow as well.  As a result, they will have breakthrough ideas, new concepts, and ways to do things.  Curiosity is the source of invention. It is not a matter of whether innovation will happen, but when.

Where should be the focus of continuous improvement?

While transforming the company culture from traditional to continuous improvement, where should be the focus?

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.      

Conclusion

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.