Best Practices for Successful Process Improvement Initiatives

3 Best Practices for Successful Process Improvement Initiatives

Research shows 70% of process initiatives fail due to unsuccessful change implementation. But these statistics shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing process improvement. Most of the studies indicating low success rates only cover process improvement projects using Lean and Six Sigma

One of the key factors in determining the success of process improvement initiatives is the approach taken. And I believe most privately held companies don’t need Lean and Six Sigma to implement process improvement. What you do need is the right method that fits the need of your organization to improve your processes while adopting the philosophy of Kaizen—also known as continuous improvement. 

To increase your chances of success and reap all the benefits of process improvement, here are three of the best practices in process improvement:

Start by documenting your current state

We start every process improvement initiative by understanding the current state. To do this, you have to document your current process from pre-sales to follow-up and repurchase. What makes this practice powerful is that it typically solves 30% of a company’s problems. 

Most problems are clarification issues. In my experience, leading teams through process improvement, the root cause of most operation problems is that someone didn’t know what they were supposed to do, when they were supposed to do it, or how they were supposed to do it. 

Thus, simply putting on paper the current state of the entire customer-for-life experience and getting clear on what is supposed to be happening usually solves a third of your problems. 

Build accountability

Only a few know the right way to build accountability in process improvement. Having people make a commitment and be responsible for something new to them can be challenging. But if you want to succeed in process improvement, you have to invest in building accountability. Teach people how to build a process instead of giving them a checklist of processes to follow.

When individuals and teams are held accountable for the success of a process improvement initiative, they are more likely to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities and work together to achieve the desired outcomes. As a leader, you must listen and understand what their challenges are in your process improvement efforts and give them the training and support they need.

Follow the philosophy of Kaizen

Kaizen is focused on continuous improvement, which means that it is an ongoing effort to make incremental improvements to processes over time. With this approach, you can avoid massive process overhauls that can be disruptive, time-consuming, expensive, and not sustainable. 

Another reason why Kaizen is considered one of the best practices in process improvement is that it involves all employees, from senior management to front-line staff. This approach helps to build a culture of continuous improvement and encourages employees to take ownership of their work processes. 

Moreover, since Kaizen involves cross-functional teams working together to identify and implement improvements, it helps break down silos between departments. Kaizen encourages one-team alignment. Instead of operating and building initiatives by department, Kaizen allows company-wide change. This means no one is left behind and is working towards a common goal.

And last but not least, practicing Kaizen in process improvement gives you a competitive advantage. By continuously changing for the better, you are getting ahead of your competition. People will look up to you for the best practices in the industry. This is how Toyota has remained a leader for many years now. And you, too, can earn a reputation of being number one by adopting Kaizen.

In love and respect,

Hilary Corna

Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


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