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Need For Continuous Improvement Culture At Work

Continuous Improvement is about long-term sustainable change, which aims at empowering people to provide a better customer experience whilst reducing cost for an organisation - it is a win-win for everybody.

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A strong Continuous Improvement (CI) culture can deliver significant long-term sustainable benefits both for the employees, and most importantly for the customers of any organisation. Continuous Improvement in this sense is more than just a set of tools or a methodology to improve processes or eliminate waste, it is a mind-set, a way of thinking that determines the business culture, and thus the outcomes it delivers.

For the employees of any organisation, a strong continuous improvement capability provides a number of benefits both personally and professionally. Does it assist with the career development of individuals by giving those new skills and capabilities that they can apply on any process or any industry, it also provides individuals with skills and techniques that are applicable outside of the workplace that can have a benefit to their personal lives. CI Skills are highly desirable across any industry and there are a number of certifications and qualifications available for individuals to pursue in order to build their credibility and ability to positively impact the processes that they are working on. It also provides individuals with the ability to be recognised for improvements and incremental changes made to the processes through increased visibility with senior management and leadership teams, giving individuals the opportunity to really put themselves in the limelight for contributing to something they may not have previously been involved in. 

For managers this has an equal benefit as it helps to remove the firefighting and daily BAU issues that they may have been facing through better organisation and structured problem-solving approaches. This in turn creates time and capacity for the team, and allows managers to provide more coaching; improved capability building and more value added time to the team as required.

On a macro level it has a number of benefits to organisations overall. Firstly, a long-term sustainable improvement capability can be seen from a mature CI practice which isn’t just about short term project or program management, it is about long-term incremental improvement through cultural change within an organisation. Innovation is a by-product of a continuous improvement culture - if you are constantly challenging your organisations to find better, smarter and faster ways of operating. Empowering colleagues to identify and deliver changes to make a difference by giving those structured tools and techniques really does inspire an innovative eco-system, in which every idea is a good idea, and the right infrastructure is in place to implement them. 

From a business process perspective, this ensures that we have good knowledge and control over our processes at team level. It also ensures that we have good 'operational grip' across end-to-end processes with a common way of thinking and operating in place at e2e level. This allows leaders of an organisation to use the capability that has been established to really deliver focused and impactful improvement solutions and activity in areas of need as required. 

In summary, Continuous Improvement is about long-term sustainable change, which aims at empowering people to provide a better customer experience whilst reducing cost for an organisation - it is a win-win for everybody.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Ronak Rawal

The author is Head of Continuous Improvement – Tesco Business Services, Tesco

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