How a Continuous Improvement Mindset Impacts Growth

How a Continuous Improvement Mindset Impacts Growth

by John Stewart
March 03, 2021

Most business leaders, particularly CFOs, are focused on top-line growth. They identify areas to reduce expenses and trim budgets, and function with the mentality that you don’t need to fix something until it’s truly broken. Their companies attempt to band-aid issues as much as possible to avoid investing capital. This way of thinking ultimately inhibits the growth of their business and creates long-term challenges that can’t be bandaged. 

Focus on the Long-Term in the Short-Term

This is exactly where the problem begins. When a firm’s chief executives do not see the value of continuous improvement, the internal operations of the business start to deteriorate over time. It’s not sudden. It happens gradually, and you barely notice it until it’s too late.

To avoid this pitfall, executives must still focus on their business goals and profit margins, but they need to get there by utilizing their operating costs as efficiently as possible. How? By identifying the key areas that are going to allow the business to scale effectively – and working on them constantly.

This is the continuous improvement mindset. It means understanding that overall growth is accomplished through tracking and developing your people, processes and technology always, and acknowledging that success is attained in the long term. 

Why You Need It

Operations improvement is a vital piece of the growth equation. Without it you will never scale effectively, and your small challenges become much larger challenges. When you tackle your operations by focusing on continuous improvement methodologies such as lean improvement, value-stream mapping your processes and performing kaizen events (actions intended to improve existing processes), you not only reduce costs and improve quality, you also change your company’s culture in critical ways.

Where to Begin

The first step is to evaluate all aspects of your organization honestly – which is easier said than done. Often companies are resistant to change. Sometimes they continue with processes that “have always worked” without considering if they could be done better or more efficiently, or what the team could accomplish if processes were smoother or faster.

Once you’re open to change, you have to be able to analyze your current state. Implementing improvement KPIs gives you a quantifiable way to track your business. But most companies lack the right KPIs to enable their business operations, which means they’re building without a solid foundation from which to grow.

You need to evaluate what the right metrics are for your organization. Or, find a partner that can help you identify what KPIs fit your needs and put you in a position to succeed. When you have effective KPIs implemented and understood, you can assess the current health of your company and set a target for where you want to be.

Get Everyone on Board

Your entire company needs to buy into the idea of continuous improvement to be effective. You can devise a plan, but people have to execute it. When you develop a workforce that is excited to pursue the same goals, you can begin truly realize results.

With a team in place that knows and wants to measure the performance of your organization, you can begin to dig through all of your processes and identify key areas for improvement and focus. Evaluate them, whether it’s monthly or quarterly, and update them as your business develops.

You may want to establish some quick wins in the first 30-90 days to get the inertia going. Give your people the tools they need to be motivated to keep pursuing these goals. But a continuous improvement mindset is a foundation for long-term sustainable growth.

Thriving Through Change

Improvement is tough. It means taking an honest look at your business and not fearing what you find, then building a coalition of change agents and empowering them to push the company forward.

The results, however, are worth the effort. Companies that do this consistently see increased profit margins, higher employee retention and reduced costs across their firm. They also see ongoing innovation occur, as their people become so empowered to improve that new ideas come to light and are tested.

Have questions or want to learn more about how to define your best path forward and apply continuous improvement to drive growth? Visit our Strategy & Transformation page or reach out to our experts.

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