Strategies for improving business processes
Learn how to keep your eye on opportunities to improve all aspects of your small business.
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For me, continuous improvement is the practice of periodically reexamining and changing the way you work to reduce three types of wastes: costs, time and mistakes.
Continuous improvement is not just a practice, it's a set of values. To continuously improve, you have to humbly search for your own skills and blind spots.
You have to respect and honor the views and insights of your employees and your partners. Everyone has thoughts or ideas about how to make your work faster, cheaper or better.
You have to devote whatever resources, time or money you can to assessing how you work and figuring out how to do it better.
Here's how to put this model into practice for your business.
Identify an area of your business that has many steps, seems to take too long, or often produces errors. Map out the process of how that thing gets done.
For instance, dentists can study how their hygienists inspect and clean teeth. Restaurant owners can study how a server takes an order and delivers the order to the kitchen. Bakery owners can study how their employees make a cake.
The map you make should be big and visual so that its patterns and its details are clear. Plan how you can alter, shorten or consolidate steps. Execute the plan for adjusting the process. Review how the new process is working and change it again if needed.
And finally, do it all over again for a different part of your business.
Make sure you involve your staff in the continuous improvement process. Not only does it enable you to benefit from their experience, but it also makes them more invested in the success and outcome of your business.
Continuous improvement is a constant, never-ending fight to do things better today than you did yesterday. It's a key ingredient for running a healthy and thriving business.