When it comes to ensuring that process improvement initiatives are sustainable, the key is to focus on small, gradual changes rather than big ones. Small changes can be made quickly, on a daily basis, and are generally not expensive. This approach will allow your team to reap the benefits of their “small wins” right away and as more and smaller changes are applied, they will see an accumulation of benefits derived from them. This will give them more confidence to suggest more ideas.
Process improvement exercises are activities that are used to help your sustainability improvement activities. If the idea has been effective, the next improvement cycle will begin with the new baseline and your goal will be to move towards a new objective condition. Preliminary evidence suggests that a quality improvement project with a score ≥ 55 has a high probability of sustained success. Documenting any given business process in a checklist format can achieve full transparency about the tasks in the process.
Communications are vital for the effectiveness and sustainability of any organizational effort, and especially for continuous improvement. Workers must commit to their work and face the challenge of achieving small, gradual improvements every day. Lean Six Sigma offers a structural approach to analyzing business operations, analyzing data and processes to discover and eliminate waste. Transferring responsibility for process improvement from technical experts to frontline workers requires structural redesign around lateral processes.
In general, leaders and professionals have had prolonged and repeated exposure to the objectives, language, characteristics, and methodologies of continuous improvement before making the decision to initiate continuous improvement as part of the organization's strategy and operations. Tools that help maintain improvement include process control boards, performance tables, standard work, and improvement meetings. Some ideas, such as reducing waste, eliminating unnecessary steps, and reorganizing work processes, fall into this category. To demonstrate the practical applications of these quality improvement principles, these principles are applied to a hypothetical quality improvement initiative that aims to promote home dialysis (home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis).
Important contextual factors relate to senior leadership and organizational experience with quality improvement. A key aspect to consider when thinking about making sustainability-related improvements is that more can always be done. One of the key principles of an integrative improvement approach is that the organization should be designed around processes, products and customers, not around functions. Therefore, the improvement team must address some of the weaknesses identified in the project to increase the likelihood that their improvements in the home dialysis process will be maintained. Undoubtedly, this alignment helped the improvement team secure resources and management support that are often difficult to obtain. In order for process improvement initiatives to be sustainable over time, it is important for organizations to focus on small changes rather than large ones.
Small changes can be implemented quickly on a daily basis without being too expensive. This approach allows teams to benefit from their “small wins” right away while also seeing an accumulation of benefits from their efforts over time. Documenting business processes in a checklist format can provide full transparency about tasks in the process while also helping maintain improvements with tools such as process control boards, performance tables, standard work, and improvement meetings. In addition, transferring responsibility for process improvement from technical experts to frontline workers requires structural redesign around lateral processes.
Senior leadership must also have prolonged exposure to quality improvement objectives before initiating continuous improvement as part of their strategy and operations. Finally, it is important for organizations to remember that more can always be done when it comes to making sustainability-related improvements. The organization should be designed around processes, products and customers rather than functions in order for these initiatives to be successful over time.