Making Continuous Improvement a Reality

Presenter: Monroe Ratchford, President, LEAPS Consulting, Dumfries, VA, USA

Keywords: Continuous Improvement, Quality Policy

Industry: Customer Service, Manufacturing, Service

Level: Advanced


Most organizations include continuous improvement as part of Quality Policy. Auditors typically confirm that the words “continuous improvement” are in the statement. The 9001 standard refers to improvement at least 15 times. Yet most of us give lip service to really making improvements a part of the DNA of our companies. How can we make improvement real?

Real value of “improvement” outside the ISO standard?

The presenter will review the real value of “improvement” outside of ISO 9001 by discussing his real life experience in working with two Olympic Coaches. Both, with varying degrees of colorful language, preached that “knowledge is just rumor; until it gets in the muscle.” The context was about living and practicing the techniques until you could not do them wrong. This is true of the business world as well. The concepts of improvement are just “rumors” until we relentlessly practice that and make them part of our business DNA.

In most businesses, if you are not learning from your mistakes, learning from the new technologies, learning from your customers, learning from your competitors, etc., you cannot win the business fight. Learning is your company’s best offensive weapon. In short, improvement and learning are inseparable. Beating the competition is a function of learning or better said, of internalized improvement.

So how do we make it real:

1. Marry learning to improvement.

2. Marry improvement to operations.

3. Marry improvement to strategy

4. Marry improvement to finances.

5. Marry improvement to company culture.

6. Marry improvement to process

Putting improvement into the organization's muscles:

1. Start with the creation of a corporate improvement register.

2. Create easy-to-use improvement charters as road-maps that management can commit to.

3. Define or re-define what is an improvement.

4. Measure improvement management with a metric that drives behaviors.

5. Reward improvement program.

6. Make improvement personal