Continuous Improvement sounds like a cliche.
Just like apple pie and motherhood (fatherhood), it brings a warm feeling to your heart, but it is much more than a platitude.
It has the power to greatly tighten up your operations, whomever is leading it.
Here’s a quick definition:
It is “the ongoing improvement of products, services or processes through incremental and sometimes breakthrough changes”.
It is mostly associated with process improvement.
“How to continually improve processes, to give your clients a better experience, while helping your people become more efficient.”
Most owners want their second in command to wrap their heads around this. (It is one of the 7 roles of a second in command)
Naylor Landscape as an example
Barney Naylor (a coaching and peer group client) from Kalamazoo, MI recently hired a second in command to run all his day-to-day operations, including sales and finance.
The new GM (Keith) had a lot on his plate.
Keith immediately saw the need for “continuous process improvement”.
But with his hands full, he decided he needed his own second in command to help with this.
So he promoted a manager into a special, company wide role of Continuous Improvement Manager.
Having both these new roles at Naylor Landscape has paid off handsomely.
Naylor Landscape is having their best, most profitable year ever.
What exactly does a Continuous Improvement Manager do?
You can break it into three easy pieces, They:
- Take on projects to improve specific areas of the company.
- Start with data collection, to get a base line, and to measure progress.
- Focuses on identifying “root causes” of problems, so that sustainable underpinning solutions can be implemented.
Examples of focus areas
This person can work on anything that can be measured, and where process is key.
Here are just a few examples:
- Sales (process)
- Data entry
- NPS scores
A curious mindset is critical to effective continuous improvement
It takes curiousity and a creative, problem-solving mindset, along with an analytical approach.
Even though it is project based, it still takes an iterative process.
It’s never one and done.
First you identify an issue, define the problem, implement a solution, measure progress, and analyze results.
Then you go back to improving the solution more (or perhaps redefining the problem) and then doing another iteration.
And so on.
Your Challenge: Identify who will oversee your continuous improvement.
- For small firms it is on the owner’s shoulders
- For midsize firms it is on the division managers shoulders, or perhaps your new second-in-command’.
- For more progressive or larger firms, it is a separate role.
- Sometimes it is some combination of these three options.
Careful for when it works:
When you do it right, you will uncover a lot of needed improvements and changes in your firm that may make others uncomfortable.
The person in charge therefore must take a political approach, or be partnered with someone who can gain buy-in to the changes.
Who is, or should be in charge, at your firm?
P.S. I am announcing a new virtual masterclass on how to expand your business by “building branches.” Stay tuned, we are announcing it very soon.