Continuous improvement is a business culture that encourages all employees to look for ways to improve company operations. This includes suggesting ideas for improving efficiency, evaluating current processes, and finding opportunities to reduce unproductive work. Continuous improvement strives to achieve two main objectives, namely, streamlining workflows and reducing waste. Together, they help reduce costs and optimize results, whether it's the quality of a product or service.
Continuous improvement is a conscious and deliberate decision to continuously invest and focus on improving. This is not a single project with a beginning and an end, but rather a continuous process that aims at excellence in the chosen areas of focus. Therefore, what follows is a short list of different types of tools, methods, and practices that both we and our customers have found useful to support and enable continuous improvement. The term itself is loosely translated as good change or improvement and, in general, it is more about a philosophy than a specific process.
However, if you're able to implement changes to improve the environment, you can also improve productivity. Continuous improvement is one of those topics that people often talk about and rarely have anything against it, but it still doesn't get the attention it deserves. Business process modeling tools can be extremely useful for visualizing business processes and making improvements. If you don't systematically focus on improving the way you operate and do business, you'll inevitably lose ground to your competitors little by little until you finally become obsolete.
Therefore, if you are thinking of making continuous improvements at the scale of the entire organization, make sure that management is involved and committed to the process, and that you actually have enough resources throughout the organization to implement many of the suggestions that are generated. During these sessions, you can explain how the processes are currently running to see if there are aspects that need to be improved or made changes. Therefore, for most forms of continuous improvement in organizations, the Kaizen cycle would be my default recommendation. For example, if you have a weekly team meeting, have everyone report at least one improvement (however small) that they have identified and another that they have also implemented every week in front of the whole team.
However, most employees may not be very familiar with continuous improvement, so when you start with it, be sure to teach them the basics of the concept and, more importantly, what they should really be looking for.