BY: BRAD LEFEVER, PROJECT MANAGER, WOHLSEN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY
The world is always changing and always adapting. When we are asked to change and adapt with it, that can be tough. Whether it is a new piece of technology, a new process, or even a new teammate, we are constantly asked to evaluate and implement. At Wohlsen Construction we have five core values, continuous improvement is one of those five. We are taught to reflect on the process of a task or project to help identify waste and eliminate it. While eliminating waste in an organization can sound negative, it is not. Eliminating waste is essential to aid the development of employees and increase organizational efficiency.
Continuous improvement stems from a model developed by the Japanese, called “Kaizen.” This model is based around the idea of a never-ending strive for perfection through the elimination of waste. Waste elimination can be a difficult concept to grasp, as is the action required to actually do it. It requires organizational buy-in from the lowest level, all the way to the top. Without each level of the organization taking action to eliminate waste, it can all be for naught. I am sure many of you have been in a situation where you or your co-workers are frustrated by something within your company. It is easy to vent to one another about something you would like to change, but it is much harder to go about changing it. This is where the process of continuous improvement, if correctly implemented in an organization, can make a real difference.
Think about a situation in your career where you wanted something within your organization to change. Now imagine if you did an analysis on that change to identify how you would become more efficient in your role if that change were made. The model of continuous improvement relies on employees to hold themselves to a higher standard. We cannot be content with simply venting about a frustration we have. We must show our superiors how making a change will benefit the organization. We are called to develop a plan and understand what success will look like if this change occurs.
Continuous improvement is most importantly about the cycle of the change, not its success. You plan, you implement, you check in, and you act accordingly on the results. If the results are positive, great! If the results are negative, you pivot and plan again until the outcome is deemed a success.
The beauty of this system is that it is never-ending. Don’t get me wrong, that can sound tireless, but if you have an organization who commits itself to always being better, in essence, it is fantastic. I would encourage you to do some further research on continuous improvement and speak to your organization about this concept. As I mentioned earlier, if you can create top to bottom buy-in for continuous improvement, you will see tangible results in bottom line dollars and organizational health. In addition, you will create an environment where employees want to come to work because they are able to speak up about their ideas and grow in the process.
Posted February 23, 2021