Continuous improvement focuses on increasing the effectiveness and/or efficiency of an organisation to fulfil its policy and objectives. It is not limited to quality initiatives. Improvement in business strategy, business results, customer, employee and supplier relationships can be subject to continual improvement. Put simply, it means ‘getting better all the time’.
W. Edwards Deming, a pioneer of the field, saw it as part of the ‘system’ whereby feedback from the process and customer were evaluated against organisational goals. The fact that it can be called a management process does not mean that it needs to be executed by ‘management’; but rather merely that it makes decisions about the implementation of the delivery process and the design of the delivery process itself.
From the perspective of organisational transformation, identifying what needs to be improved as opposed to what needs to be disrupted allows for a balanced approach to maintaining delivery flow and the required innovation. It also allows leaders to direct dedicated teams to both efforts to avoid overheating the organisation by focusing the same teams on both simultaneously.
- A continuous improvement in efficiency.
- Higher employee engagement as they are expected to do more than just show up for work.
- Higher customer satisfaction through higher quality and response to their feedback.
- Improvements are made in small, incremental steps.
- It can stifle rather than reward creative thinking.
- Improvements can become disconnected from achieving business objectives.