What is continuous improvement?
Don’t assume everyone has the same definition of what something is, so let’s start with this. To me, continuous improvement is the process of continually identifying, assessing, and implementing ways to improve products, services, or processes.
In the context of your own work, it means constantly evaluating and seeking ways to improve one’s performance, skills, and knowledge.
This can involve making incremental changes, which are small, gradual improvements made over time, rather than large, drastic changes. By recognizing the value of continuous improvement, an individual is committing to a mindset of always striving to be better and more efficient in their work, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
Continuous improvement can contribute to the design of new approaches within the immediate work environment by encouraging the identification of problems or inefficiencies, and the development and implementation of solutions. Through the process of continuous improvement, individuals and teams can identify areas for improvement, set goals, and create action plans to achieve those goals. By regularly evaluating the effectiveness of these plans, and making adjustments as needed, new approaches can be developed and implemented in the work environment.
Additionally, continuous improvement can foster a culture of experimentation and innovation within the work environment, as individuals and teams are encouraged to try new ideas and approach problems from different perspectives. This can lead to the development of new and more efficient processes, products, or services.
Moreover, continuous improvement can also encourage employees to take ownership of their work and to be more engaged in their job by giving them an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement, this can improve the overall productivity and satisfaction of the employees.
In summary, continuous improvement can contribute to the design of new approaches within the immediate work environment by promoting problem-solving, experimentation, innovation, employee engagement, and a focus on achieving specific goals.
There are several ways to address problems affecting your role in a small business:
- Identify the problem: Clearly define the problem and its scope. Gather information and data to help understand the problem and its causes.
- Involve relevant stakeholders: Consult with team members, colleagues, and other relevant stakeholders to gather their perspectives and ideas.
- Develop a plan: Based on the information gathered, develop a plan to address the problem. The plan should include specific, measurable goals and a timeline for achieving them.
- Implement the plan: Put the plan into action and monitor progress.
- Evaluate the results: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the plan, and make adjustments as needed.
- Communicate: Communicate the progress and outcome of the problem-solving efforts to all the stakeholders.
- Continuously Improvise: Continuously look for ways to improve the process and to prevent similar problems from arising in the future.
- Seek support: If the problem is too big to handle by oneself, seek support from management or external resources such as consultants, or experts.
By following these steps, one can effectively address problems affecting their role in a small business context, and help improve the overall efficiency and productivity of the organization.
Adapting proposals vs exploring new ideas
Adopting proposals suggested by others where these do not require radical change refers to the process of being open to and willing to consider new ideas and suggestions.
Even if they may not align with one’s own initial thoughts or approach. This can involve taking the time to understand and evaluate the potential benefits and drawbacks of the proposal.
Then you can work to adapt and implement it in a way that is practical and feasible within the current constraints of your own job role as part of continuous improvement processes.
Adapting proposals is a different process from the ongoing exploration of new ideas.
Exploration of new ideas
Exploration of new ideas requires skills to assess the viability and effectiveness of a small business with limited people and financial resources is critically important to the survival of a small business.
Exploring new ideas, rather than adapting proposed ideas for implementation, requires business management skills to assess viable options. To do this you would need to have developed analyzing and critical thinking skills in earlier topics in this program to be given the decision-making authority to do this at the stage of the business improvement process.
Small businesses need to continuously innovate and explore new ideas in order to stay competitive and grow and can adapt their operations faster than larger businesses to bring new products to market before major competitors.
Small businesses often have limited resources, and therefore must be strategic in their decision-making and resource allocation. By continuously exploring new ideas, a small business can identify new opportunities for growth and improvement, and develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces.
In summary, Adopting proposals is about being open to and willing to consider new ideas and suggestions, even if they may not align with one’s own initial thoughts or approach. Exploring new ideas is about the need for small businesses to continuously innovate and explore new ideas in order to stay competitive and grow.
Do you need to do both?
You may be asked to do both of these things if you are working for a small business as you would have direct access to the business owner, but at the end of the day, the business has to be able to make money to afford to keep you on. Perfection is the enemy of profits, which is why all businesses, large and small, have their own versions of improvement processes to test and trial products to see if it is what customers want.
You can’t improve something that doesn’t exist, and you can’t ask customers for feedback on it either. This is the balancing act all businesses go through, but small businesses generally have better relationships with customers who give better feedback on what others would be willing to pay for it.
If you can do that, you get word-of-mouth advertising and promotion for your business, which is usually the cheapest form of marketing businesses can do.
Developing self-management skills
To finish off this topic, we get our network members to try improving their own plan you did to manage their workload and commitments completed in week 3 of our 14-week program. See if your plan has opportunities to develop and apply new ideas incorporated into your plan.
If not, or even if you do, add more time to do this into your plan. If you do this it is likely you will get offers for more work which you will need to make sure you have time for in your schedule if you accept a position.
Facilitating a climate in which creativity and innovation are accepted as an integral part of the way things are done in successful small businesses, for example:
- build in time for idea creation and sharing,
- deliberately look for the potential in ideas proposed by others,
- especially when ideas do not seem immediately practical
These are examples of what would make you more suitable than others to work for a small business as not everyone has the right mindset to do this.
No matter if you are looking for employment or contract work on a project, having the skills to do this increase your earning capacity with small businesses.
If you have this on your resume or client testimonials it stands out in an interview, Which prospective clients do too before agreeing to pay you.
Even if you don’t think you have the experience (or are eligible to) apply for a position or start a business, this skill can still get you the gig.
If you are looking for help to improve your small business, book a free discovery call here.