Evolution to avoid extinction
The world is changing rapidly as technology is advancing exponentially. In business, we are continually confronted with change driven by new technologies, regulations and global competition, to name just a few. And on a personal level, we all face an increasing flood of content and information and have fundamentally changed the way we communicate, interact, make purchases and generally live our lives.
These changes not only present challenges, but opportunities to keep our business relevant. As companies compete for survival and for market dominance, those who cannot maintain improvement and continually evolve to better meet the needs of their customers will fall behind.
Business strategies must be reactive, not proactive
It usually costs far more to fix problems after the fact, versus preventing them in the first place. Companies that take a proactive approach, make it a business priority to build their organisations the right way the first time.
Many businesses however are run in a reactionary way. They are forced to implement changes because the market demands it for the business to survive. But how can they be more proactive and evolve the business into a market leader?
The key is to develop a culture of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is often referred to by the Japanese word 'Kaizen', meaning 'change for the better', and covers all processes in an organisation. These include engineering, IT, financial, commercial and customer service processes, as well as manufacturing.
Continuous improvement should be consistent
Continuous improvement is about achieving regular and frequent changes that can can help an organisation meet its goals for increasing profits, reducing costs, and accelerating innovation.
Continuous improvement should not be revolutionary, but evolutionary. The approach will be driven by business strategy, capability, market understanding and commitment to the process. Often, these processes add capacity to the enterprise with little or no additional costs.
Incorporating continuous improvement
There is no improvement without measurement. An organisation must establish current performance before embarking on any improvement. If it does not, it will have no baseline from which to determine if its efforts have yielded any improvement.
Make continuous improvement everybody's responsibility. It needs to be a normal component of all employees' jobs to search out ways of improving performance.
Reward success. The encouragement of people who have initiated improvements, however small, is critical to the long term success of this approach.
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