The magic of continuous improvement

Maarten Draijer

More and more companies swear by it and it is a force to be reckoned with which can make sure a company keeps innovating and evolving. We're talking about continuous improvement. In this article you can read why it is so important to use.

Continuous improvement: The basics

As the name suggests continuous improvement is all about a company improving itself continuously. It isn't just about products but also about all the work processes and the overall quality of all the work that is done.

Many people have a negative feeling when they hear the word continuous improvement. This is due to the fact that it might seem that a lot of effort and time is put into peripheral matters while you already have a lot of 'ordinary 'work to do. Yet in the long-term it is a very good fashion in which to keep improving a company.

Ways of improvement

There are two ways of improvement: step-by-step or with a breakthrough. Continuous improvement mostly contributes to the step-by-step approach of improvement. Most of the time the same style of planning is used for this approach. The so-called PDCA-cycle. PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check and Act.

  • Plan: You start with examining what opportunities you have and how you can best apply necessary changes.
  • Do: subsequently you take action and implement your chosen changes on a small scale.
  • Check: You keep a close eye on the changes made and use gathered data to check if these changes show the desired effect.
  • Act: Now check if the results have been positive. If so you can apply the changes on a larger scale. If not you start again by making a new plan.

Kanban as a cornerstone

A widely used method of continuous improvement is Kanban. This is a very accessible method to use when trying to bring in change on a large scale. Through Kanban it is rather easy for your whole company to become acquainted with continuous improvement.

The core of Kanban resides in the Kanban board. This is a physical or digital board on which all tasks a team is currently working on are displayed.You use three sorts of statuses through which you can show if a task is coming up, currently being worked on or has been completed. Every task can be appointed to a single person who is responsible for completing said task. Due to the fact that the process of learning to work with Kanban takes little time, it is the perfect way of starting out with continuous improvement.

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