You can’t outpace your competitors, build your bottom line and establish your brand as an industry leader if you follow the status quo. You must be willing to look beyond proven best practices and consider how you can make them better, stronger and more efficient.

When everyone in your workforce is dedicated to innovating and improving at every turn, your organization is in a position to grow. However, this dedication doesn’t happen overnight. You first need to develop and implement an organizational change management plan focused on helping employees adapt to a new organizational culture – a continuous improvement culture.

Today, we’re sharing how you can establish such a culture by creating a continuous improvement plan and communicating the organizational values that are essential to the company’s success.

What is a Continuous Improvement Culture?

A continuous improvement culture is an environment where everyone across the organization is consistently looking for new ways to add quality, productivity and value to the organization. This mindset cannot be isolated to the C-suite – it should permeate every department and engage every employee.

Continuous Improvement Plans and ERP

Creating a continuous improvement plan often means making radical shifts in time-honored practices, even those that have “worked just fine” until now. For instance, continuous improvement may lead you to realize the need replace your legacy system with an ERP solution in order to consolidate and centralize data onto a central platform.

Continuous improvement is also relevant after an ERP implementation. However, a continuous improvement culture must be built before go-live to ensure your team is prepared to look for opportunities for improvement immediately after go-live.

Another reason that building a continuous improvement culture is essential before go-live is that it enables you to improve your processes before and after ERP selection.

Even if a new ERP system isn’t on your horizon yet, it’s still important to focus on continuous improvement. Over time, as you dig deeper into your core processes, you might decide that new ERP software could enable the improvements you need.

A software consultant, like Panorama Consulting, can conduct a technology assessment to determine the right enterprise strategy or digital strategy for your organization in terms of people, process and technology. For example, many of our clients don’t necessarily need a new ERP system but may benefit from ERP system integration.

A Structured Process & Set of Tools to Manage the People Side of Change

Our ERP organizational change management services can help you prepare your employees for change and ease difficult transitions.

Frameworks for Continuous Improvement

When you first set out to change your organizational culture to one of continuous improvement, you may not know what form that continuous improvement should take. Here are a few of the most common frameworks, or operating models:

 

  • The Toyota Production System (TPS)
  • The Deming Cycle (aka the PDCA Cycle)
  • Six Sigma
  • Lean Manufacturing System
  • Total Quality Management

5 Tips for Building a Continuous Improvement Culture

While cultural change is ultimately an organizational change management endeavor, a general understanding of the change management process may not be enough to shift your culture. You also need to understand the specific change management tactics relevant to cultural change:

1. Choose a Framework and Train Your Continuous Improvement Team

First, it’s important to decide which of the above frameworks you will follow. While they all share similarities, there are important distinctions to note. For instance, the TPS framework is based on two primary methodologies: 

  • Jidoka: Automation with personalization
  • Just-in-Time: Process-by-process succession in a continuous flow

Take the time to understand which strategies best align with your organization. Then, establish a continuous improvement team tasked with spearheading this undertaking. Make sure they thoroughly understand the framework so they can play an active role in identifying and making improvements. 

2. Start with Quick Wins to Gain Buy-in

You may predict that business process reengineering will reduce customer response times, but your employees may not be eager to adopt the continuous improvement mindset until they see how it can benefit them.

This is why it’s important to outline specific business benefits and focus on achieving some of the benefits that could be considered low-hanging fruit. Quick wins can be enough to convince employees to engage in continuous improvement.

how to build a continuous improvement culture

3. Encourage Frontline Teams to Identify Improvement Opportunities

From sales to customer service, there are many frontline employees in your workforce who deal with customers on a regular basis. The conversations they have with your target audience can help them identify potential pain points or opportunities for improvement.

Encourage these teams to share this information with you so they feel like their involvement in continuous improvement is making a difference.

4. Communicate the Logistics of Your Continuous Improvement Plan

A continuous improvement culture is not just one where everyone is actively involved in identifying improvements. Everyone must also understand the logistics of rolling out these improvements – even if they are not as directly involved in the implementation as the project team.

To minimize resistance and encourage user adoption, consistent communication regarding implementation logistics is key. For instance, if it’s an ERP implementation, make sure your employees understand the training timeline and major milestones that will affect them.

Change management communication ensures that improvements move along smoothly without implementation roadblocks, like confused employees.

5. Measure Results

Before making organizational improvements, it’s important to set key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks that will help you monitor your progress throughout implementation. This will allow you to clearly see which efforts are delivering ROI and which ones aren’t fulfilling their intended goals.

A Motivated Workforce

Starting and sustaining growth initiatives requires a motivated workforce that understands the value of continuous improvement. The key is to maintain transparency and empower employees to play an active role.

Our team of change management consultants can help you use change management techniques to first change your culture and then to efficiently implement ongoing improvements. Request a free consultation below.

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