Continuous improvement, sometimes called continual improvement, is the on-going improvement of products, services or processes through incremental and breakthrough improvements.
Essential improvement activities
- Maintain communication.
It is important to share information before, during and after attempting to make improvements.
- Correct obvious problems
Should be corrected immediately
- Look upstream
Look for causes, not symptoms.
- Document problems and progress
Take time to write it down. It is uncommon to continue solving the same problem over and over again.
- Monitor changes
Solution may solve or partially solved. For this reason, it is important to monitor changes that have been made. Make sure the pride of ownership does not interfere the objective of monitoring the performance.
Among the most widely used tools for continuous improvement is a four-step quality model—the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle, also known as Deming Cycle or Shewart Cycle:
- Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan for change.
- Do: Implement the change on a small scale.
- Check: Use data to analyse the results of the change and determine whether it made a difference.
- Act: If the change was successful, implement it on a wider scale and continuously assess your results. If the change did not work, begin the cycle again.
Other widely used methods of continuous improvement — such as Six Sigma, Lean, and Total Quality Management — emphasize employee involvement and teamwork; measuring and systematizing processes; and reducing variation, defects and cycle times.