Continuous Improvement

Introduction

Continuous improvement requires establishment of best quality principles and guidelines for its effective and efficient implementation. Moreover, these principles and guidelines must be proactive and reactive to guarantee continued improvement for the company’s business. This should always seek to achieve improvement of service delivery to clients (Elaine, 2011). Moreover, a human element is one of the most critical factors in quality management. This is so since quality management is intended to provide continuous improvement in business processes that are supposed to meet clients’ needs.

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Furthermore, Juran provides communication to be one of the key elements that must be used to ensure continued improvement in quality management (Thomas & Christopher, 2008). In connection to this, there is need to prioritize communication to facilitate good working environment thus aiding in achieving strategic plans. In the provided case study, the Spanish company applied several approaches to continuous improvement implementation. All these approaches were geared towards enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in the operation of the company.

Approaches to Continuous Improvement Implementation in the Case Study

Management Commitment

The management of any organization has the sole responsibility to ensure quality improvement. They should do this by ensuring that the required resources are availed to all project stakeholders. In respect to the case study, there were several initiatives by the management to ensure that the desired continuous improvement is achieved.

This was achieved through formulation of improvement teams which involved senior managers of the company. There were several improvement teams that were instituted in the implementation process. These teams comprised of the senior managers who were concerned with drawing marketing plan that relate to advertising, promotions, collaborations and display stands.

Stakeholders’ Competitiveness

Moreover, the exercise also assumed a competitive working environment that ensured that all participating staff committed themselves to the process since competition ensures that there is full commitment in order to achieve the best results. Therefore, competition was encouraged among different implementation teams which intended to enable these teams achieve the desired marketing plans of the company.

Furthermore, implementation teams were constituted to come up with projects on how to implement process of continuous improvement in the company. These projects were subjected to some form of competition where by the best ones were considered for adoption for the implementation process.

Participative approach

The implementation approach of the continuous improvement of the company used participative approach where all stakeholders were at liberty to give their personal views. This was accomplished through provision of a suggestion box where people would provide their suggestions to the implementation teams. The opinions from the suggestion box created a shared vision among all company’s stakeholders which was a recipe for achievement and attainment of sustainable performance. Moreover, the suggestion box also acted as a platform for communication which in turn created a good working environment. Furthermore, this also helped to create coordination and collaboration spirit in the organization.

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Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the company used an approach where by it encouraged its workforce to develop multidisciplinary teams which were used to come up with creative and innovative mechanism of implementing continuous improvement exercise. This was an appropriate approach that led to sharing of innovative ideas.

Exclusion of the warehouse personnel from the CI team projects

Furthermore, it is important to note that it was completely unprofessional to exclude the warehouse personnel from the continuous improvement project teams while confining them only to the suggestion box scheme. This meant that the workers were denied training and development in the continuous improvement exercise which was a crucial aspect for organizational effectiveness. According to Tichy (2009), staff learning and development remains an important endeavor for all staff members including both skilled and non skilled. However, there are several problems that presented themselves in the management of human resource in the organization.

Consequently, this meant that this category of workers missed crucial learning process which in the end affected organizational processes in terms of implementation of the continuous improvement. For that matter, effectiveness and efficiency in the organization’s performance were affected due to isolation of a given group of employees in the organization.

For that matter, this was unethical considerations in the staff selection for training and development programme which disregarded needs of all workforces. According to Triant and Sharon (2006), a good training and development programme should have been followed in the needs assessment process which obeys several processes. The first process should have been organizational analysis where business strategy could have been considered in selecting staff for training rather than favouring some staff.

Secondly, personal analysis should have been carried out where individual’s performance should have been considered rather than unethical factors taking centre stage. Lastly, task analysis also should have been undertaken. In line with this, the approach made these warehouse employees to have the feeling that the training was pointless to them since they saw the entire programme being pointless to their working activities. For that reason, these employees did not appreciate the relevance of the programme.

The noticeable flaws in the reward and recognition scheme for case study company

Project selection that would best suit the company was one of the biggest flaws that the company encountered in its continuous implementation process. Nonetheless, it was acknowledged that this was as a result of poor integration of the project teams which made it hard for the company to be able to select the best project.

Moreover, it was also evident that there was lack of awareness in respect to the obstacles relating to implementation process of the project. This was a big flaw in the exercise since regular evaluation of the project was needed to be done. This could have provided early information relating to hiccups in the implementation process and therefore informed early corrective measures.

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How different I will approach Continuous Implementation in my own organization

Implementation of continuous improvement just like its formulation must follow defined approach to achieve the desired result. Nonetheless, it is important to have collaboration, cooperation and coordination in the implementation process of this exercise in any organization. According to Bryson (2011), implementation of continuous improvement acts as a transition from their planning phase where they are incorporated in different sub systems of the organization to bring the desired value.

With respect to my own organization, collaboration, cooperation and coordination will be crucial in the effort of achieving the desired outcomes as intended in the organization’s strategic plans. Therefore, there is need of the management and the entire stakeholders of the company to practice these values in order to realize effectiveness and efficiency as it is desired in by continuous improvement. Nevertheless, it is postulated by Koteen (1997) that collaboration, cooperation and coordination in the implementation process of any organization have several roles that help to attain targets in the strategic plan.

To begin with, collaboration, cooperation and coordination in the implementation process of strategy plan have a role of creating and sustaining a coalition that supports implementation of changes. However, for the coalition to be created there is need for all stakeholders of the company to have good working relationships that are characterized by collaboration and cooperation and where people are willing to share ideas while working in harmony.

This ensures realization of the common good for the organization. Nonetheless, it is also relevant that the implementation process should be overseen by good coordination exercise so that tasks can be synchronized to avoid conflicts that that may occur as a result of poor organization.

Moreover, it is important to acknowledge collaboration, cooperation and coordination in implementation process of continuous improvement plans since it helps to prevent likelihood of failure that may come as a result of resistance. Consequently, these usually occur as a result of negative beliefs and attitude towards desired changes that strategic plans may desire to achieve. However, in respect to my company, I will seek to carry out education of all stakeholders concerning continuous improvement plans in effort of reducing resistance to changes in the implementation process.

Furthermore, it is relatively important to note that collaboration, cooperation and coordination in the implementation phase help to create a network that may help to redesign an environment in the organization that can ensure long term changes in the company. This is possible since these elements help stakeholders in the organization to act as one team. As a result, any change in management like transfer of senior management from the department will still render the department viable since the organization is build on pillars of collaboration, cooperation and coordination.

Guidelines to help Facilitate Implementation of Continuous Improvement

Implementation of continuous improvement of the company will follow certain guidelines. These guidelines are desired to result to the expected value of continuous improvement. To begin with, a strategy document for implementation will be developed. This document will indicate responsibility of key parties who will be involved in the implementation process.

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Moreover, action plan will also be in place as a guideline to oversee the implementation process. In this plan, it will be necessary to outline expected results, roles of parties involved, schedules showing time frame of activities and the resource required for each specific activity.

Furthermore, implementation guideline of the company will prioritize changes that may be introduced rapidly and easily as it progresses to more complex changes. This is desired to help implementation process by avoiding resistance in its initial stages in order to give it good momentum in the initial phase (Landskroner, 2002).

Figure showing the guidelines for the implementation of the continuous improvement.
Figure1: showing the guidelines for the implementation of the continuous improvement

Guidelines for implementing continuous improvement

In respect to implementation of continuous improvement for the company, the organization will follow three guidelines. These guidelines include creating a strategy document for implementation process; action plans that details implementation process and prioritization of changes.

In relation to these guidelines, it is relatively important to appreciate that having a strategy document of implementation plan during implementation aid the process since it acts as a guiding principle as it prioritizes the most necessary changes that needs to be implemented first (Poister, 2003). Nonetheless, it is also important to have an action plan that provides details on the implementation process.

For instance, matters of scheduling will need to be covered in this guideline to make sure that all plans are implemented as per specified timeframe. Furthermore, prioritization of changes will serve as a guideline in the implementation process since plans can be categorized as short term, medium term or long term plans. Therefore, prioritization will help to implement this plan in its required time limit.

Inclusive Plan for Execution Continuous Improvement

There are several methodologies, principles and approaches that my company can apply to achieve a successful implementation of continuous improvement. Firstly, it is important for the organization to have a portfolio alignment with its strategic change. According to Triant and Sharon (2006), they opine that this ensures sufficient identification and subsequent prioritization of the programs that can successfully deliver strategic changes that are deemed to be executed.

Secondly, Thomas and Christopher (2008) hold that execution of strategic change becomes another crucial element in these plans since it actually delivers the benefits of the changes desired through implementation of the programs that were designed in its change portfolio. This forms the core element of the execution process of continuous improvement. Therefore, it calls for more resource allocation, human resource especially the knowledge workers as opposed to skilled workers in order to gains the desired competitive edge against other players in the operating environment.

Thirdly, the execution plan needs to have capability improvement of this change. According to Thomas and Christopher (2008), capability improvement is something that needs to be continually enhanced where the desired programs that are supposed to facilitate change are identified and accomplished in the desired manner.

Nevertheless, there are several elements that need to be identified and implemented in the execution of continuous improvement. For that matter, these elements include creation and reinforcement of a positive organizational change culture that should be continuous. In relation to this, it is important for the top management of the organization to make those who would be affected by the continuous improvement to understand the fundamental logic and urgency that warrants strategic change (Boudreau and Ravin, 2011).

This is important since it is designed to reduce or eliminate some degree of resistance in the execution process. In addition, this aid in achieving inspirational communication which persuades all stakeholders in the organization to acknowledge and support continuous improvement towards new direction which in so doing create a conducive culture for strategic change.

Furthermore, another crucial element in the execution of continuous improvement is for the management of the company to understand the content and drivers of every change program right from the initial stages of their lifecycle. However, according to Tichy (2009), the top executives of the organization may not be in a position of identifying and defining these change programs.

Therefore, it is important for them to involve middle level managers who will be the ones concerned with execution of these strategic change in the respect divisions or units. Moreover, it is also important to acknowledge that it is imperative for both middle and top management to have an early strategic diagnosis of the operating environment where the company’s opportunities and problems must be understood. This is important since it helps to carry out execution process of strategic change with full information of the operating environment.

In addition, according to Tichy (2009), it is relatively important to align and filter programs that are related to strategic goals. This is because organizations in most case usually have limited resources and time that can be devoted to execution of strategic change and therefore the company cannot be exceptional. For that matter, it is relatively important that change programs should be evaluated and prioritized.

However, this requires efficient and effective filtering and alignment since there are usually several programs that are postulated to be pursued by the organization in the execution process. More important, there is need to have a communication program that should help in nurturing stakeholders confidence in the execution process of continuous improvement.

A diagrammatic Representation of Implementation of Continuous Improvement.
Figure 2: A diagrammatic Representation of Implementation of Continuous Improvement

Summary of key learning taken from this project

It is a learnt idea that continuous improvement is usually created when there is need of business process reengineering. The continuous improvement is therefore the wheels that bring forth revolution in organizations. For that matter, approaches that are applied in drawing the plans should then be appropriate.

This is so since wrong approaches leads to formulation of poor continuous improvement strategic plans which in most cases becomes the onset of organization’s downfall (Williams & Adrian, 1997). However, proper approaches to strategic planning results to proactive and reactive plans that are viable in organization’s operating environment hence becoming a panacea for sound management of the organization.

Furthermore, it can be learnt that one of the core reasons for developing continuous improvement plans is to achieve total quality management in organization. Usually, total quality management is one of the ways that organizations achieve their management effectiveness. Moreover, this is also one of the mechanisms that organizations use to achieve continuous improvement. Therefore, approaches to continuous improvement should be selected properly in order to ensure that an organization achieves these expectations.

Nonetheless, there are differences that exist between different approaches to continuous improvement. In most cases, these differences relates to ever changing environment. For instance, traditional approaches to continuous improvement are considered to be obsolete in most environments. However, there are some business environments that these approaches can provide the desired solutions to impeding strategic planning predicaments.

Nevertheless, it is believed that contemporary approaches to s continuous improvement are concerned with entrepreneurial concerns than compared to traditional approaches. In the modern times, most organization appreciates contemporary approaches to continuous improvement due to the stiff competition present in the current business environment (Watson, 1996).

In addition, in a business environment, there are usually scenarios that an organization can anticipate. These scenarios may at times be beneficial to the organization or harmful to their business survival. For that reason, these scenarios need to be predicted early enough in order to craft necessary measure that can counteract the negative effects. Both traditional and contemporary approaches of continuous improvement that should be used by an organization should cater for these foreseen situations (Nelmes, 2001). Moreover, approaches that are taken to address these scenarios should therefore be in line with the overall objectives, mission and vision of the organization.

References

Boudreau, J. & Ravin, J. (2011) Transformative HR: How great organisations use evidence-based change for sustainable advantage. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Bryson, J.M. (2011) Strategic Planning: For Public and Nonprofit Organizations. U.S: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Elaine, B. (2011) The 2011 Pfeiffer Anuall: Consulting. London: John Wiey & Sons, Inc.

Koteen, J. (1997) Strategic Management in Public and Nonprofit Organizations. US: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.

Landskroner, R.A. (2002) The Nonprofit Manager’s Resource Directory. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Nelmes, J. (2001) An Introduction to film Studies. New York, Routledge.

Poister, T.H. (2003) Measuring Performance in Public and Nonprofit Organisations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Thomas, G.C. & Christopher, G. (2008) Organizational Development & Change.9th ed. U.S: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Tichy, N.M. (2009) Managing Strategic Change: Technical; Political and Cultural Dynamics. London: John Wiey & Sons, Inc.

Triant, G.F. & Sharon, L.O. (2006) Designing and Executing Strategy in Aviation Management. England: Ashgate.

Williams, T. & Adrian, G. (1997) The Business Approach training. England, Gower Publishing Ltd.

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