You can improve almost everything in your organization. With so much to improve, how do you identify what are your top priority improvements?
Here is the simplest answer: focus on improvements that directly impacts customer satisfaction or business profitability. Our customers are the most important beneficiaries of any improvement or change.
Here is a simple and practical process to focus on less but most important improvement areas:
Identify: Maintain a running log of all improvement ideas and suggestions received from customers, internal team members and senior management.
Prioritize: Identify top three improvement ideas that, if implemented, can have most impact on your results (customer satisfaction, higher productivity, better profitability, reduced cost of rework etc.)
Less is More: In my experience, one such key improvement in one month can still lead to 12 breakthrough improvements in a year. So when you create your quarterly improvement plan, have no more than three most critical areas identified.
Define Outcomes: Plan around these three areas and document the expected results/outcomes. When you get into action, you shouldn’t loose the visibility of purpose. Documenting expected outcomes helps all in gaining clarity about why this improvement is necessary.
Involve Customers: You can also involve your customers in planning these quarterly improvements. They will be able to better appreciate the improved outcomes if they are involved. Customers can be your strongest process improvement partners. Do you know what your customer’s want?
Execute and Pilot: Execute the improvement actions. Monitor the implementation through pilot projects and check if the improvements are yielding right results. If not, quickly realign.
Measure: Measure the extent to which process improvement really improved outcomes. Gather feedbacks from customers and internal stakeholders.
Bottom line: Process Improvement is no rocket science, but a lot of common sense. A simple approach to improve a few critical areas will yield far better results than creating a complex improvement plan that tries to improve too many things at a time.
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Note: My book ‘#QUALITYtweet – 140 bite-sized ideas to deliver quality in every project’ explores the people, process and leadership aspects to build a constantly improving organization culture. Check it out if you haven’t already!