Take a second to think about what your life is like right now. Are you moving towards the goals you really want to achieve? Or has your progress stopped? You will notice one thing; Improvement is needed. so, knowing how to contend for continuous Improvement is of great necessity.
I know that most of you would agree that it is incredibly frustrating to feel that our lives have stagnated. More and more often, people look for opportunities that not only align with their values and beliefs but also provide these opportunities to develop and grow.
This is the reason why the issue of continuous improvement has been discussed so much in recent years. People are studying how they can efficiently and productively facilitate their continued growth and self-improvement.
This process of learning to incorporate continuous improvement and development in our lives allows us to generate motivation and progress towards the goals we really want to achieve in life.
Is this something that interests you?
The good news is, I will describe why continuous improvement is important and how you can strive to achieve it in your life to achieve YOUR unique goals.
What is Continuous Improvement?
Continuous improvement is based on the idea that even when things are good, they could be better. Continuous improvement helps us meet our goals and better meet the needs of our daily lives.
For example, finding ways to be more productive or eliminate inefficiency in your life could be the result of your efforts to continually improve.
Basically, continuous improvements help us ensure that we are functioning as efficiently, effectively, and accurately as possible.
There are many different methods through which we can seek continuous improvement, such as through the use of the Deming cycle.
This plan-do-verify-act cycle involves first planning the change, implementing the change, monitoring to see if that change makes a difference and then acting on a larger scale if the change was successful.
Despite the variety of continuous improvement methods, they can generally be segregated in the category of incremental improvement or in the category of innovative improvement.
Incremental vs innovative improvements
It is possible to achieve continuous improvement using only one of these two methods. However, best practices tend to combine the two.
What is an incremental continuous improvement?
Continuous incremental improvements involve making small adjustments to a system as problems and challenges are encountered. Through this process, we can make small changes and corrections without having to review the entire process.
For example, imagine that you have the task of editing and correcting a website for the organization you work for each week. As you work on the web pages, everyone notices one or two broken links and updates them.
This would be an example of continuous incremental improvement. You are making small changes to the website that help you operate with maximum efficiency without having to review the entire system as a whole.
What is an innovative continuous improvement?
Continuous innovative improvements contrast with incremental ones. Innovative improvements involve making major changes to a system or process and generally involve a large-scale review.
The time and effort invested in innovative continuous improvements are greater than incremental improvements, but the results generally generate larger revisions and cause larger changes more quickly.
Let’s go back to the example of the website. Imagine that the organization you work for has decided to use a new operating system and a new theme for the website that significantly alters the design, format, and functionality.
Now a much larger update is needed than correcting some links to keep the website running efficiently.
Yes, you will have to invest more in advance to make these changes, but the results will likely yield a significantly more updated and modern web page.
Benefits of continuous improvements
The benefits of continuous improvement are clear. These practices help you constantly improve yourself, your team, your organization, etc.
Remember, nothing is perfect and there will always be room to adjust and make improvements. Small incremental loads or major major changes can produce continuous improvement.
Do your daily routines stop you in any way? Maybe it’s time to add/subtract some things and make some small incremental changes to improve your life. Or, it might be time to completely redesign your lifestyle to try to increase your productivity immediately.
This is not a complicated or even difficult concept to implement once you understand it. But learning about continuous improvement methods such as the PDCA cycle, selecting one that works best for you and implementing it in your life means that there is virtually nothing you will not benefit from.
So, now that you understand what continuous improvement is and how it can potentially benefit your life, it is time to analyze how you incorporate these continuous improvement methods into your daily routine.
How to establish continuous improvement
Although you could try to address continuous improvement without a clear process, you are likely to be much more successful if you establish a plan to follow. The method I will describe today is one that we have already mentioned briefly, the PDCA cycle.
Although this model is frequently used in companies and organizations, it can also be applied to each unique individual.
The PDCA cycle steps include:
- Planning: identification and preparation for change.
- Do: Implement the change and try to improve the process.
- Verification: monitoring of the results and results of the change.
- Action: Implement change on a larger scale and apply it to other areas of your life as appropriate.
The best way to use the PDCA when it is starting is by making small incremental changes instead of major advances.
Smaller changes are easier to manage and you can simply make these changes as problems arise in your life on the go. It is not necessary to consult anyone or seek guidance, as you may need much larger improvements.
Planning phase: clearly define the problem and the objective solution
Clearly define the problem.
As problems arise, your first step in this process of continuous improvement is to clearly identify the problem. If you do not define the problem clearly, your solution will lack accuracy and efficiency.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What is the problem here?
- Who or what is affecting the problem and how is it having this impact?
- When does the problem commonly occur?
- Why has this become a problem now?
- What are the consequences of this problem?
- What would be the ideal result of overcoming this problem?
Your answers to these questions should help you clearly define the problem in question. Once you have a clear understanding of what the problem is, what its impacts are, and how it is happening, it is time to move on to the next step.
Establish a potential solution
Now that you understand the problem, you should brainstorm about possible solutions and decide which one you think is the best.
Now, the solutions you can think of will be unique to the problem in question. For example, imagine that you are wasting 30 minutes every morning in bed while you travel through social networks on your mobile phone. There are many possible solutions to this problem.
You can decide to leave your phone on the other side of the room. You can decide to leave your phone outside your room every night. Or, it could simply be blocked from social networks in the morning.
These are all potential solutions. The main criterion for an effective solution should be to help you overcome, correct and prevent the consequences of the problem in the future.
Your job now is to decide which of your brainstorming solutions best meets these criteria. Once you have done that, you can move on to the next step of this cycle of continuous improvement.
Making phase: test your change
Now that you have established a potential solution that you think addresses the problem better, it is time to implement it. If you want to achieve continuous improvement, obviously you must take action.
To do this, you must configure a small test. If we use the example of social networks above, a possible test could be to test your solution for a week.
The purpose of the test is to ensure that you closely track this problem during the designated period of time. This will ensure that you are addressing the problem effectively and do not alter your life a bit and then forget about it.
In addition, through supervision, you can make small adjustments to your solution during the entire trial period if there are problems with it. This will help prevent you from creating more problems than you are solving.
Once the test phase is finished and the small-scale test is completed, you can proceed to the next step.
Test phase: review the test
Now that you have completed your test phase and have the results, you know if your solution worked or if you need more work.
If your solution worked perfectly, that’s amazing! However, many times you will find that your solution will require adjustments, since the additional problems you had not predicted become evident.
It is only the reality of continuous improvement that not all the solutions you implement will be a winner. But don’t worry, failure is just a springboard.
Let’s take a look at this in action by going back to the example of social networks described above.
Imagine that you have selected the solution to place your mobile phone outside your room. He thinks this will force him to get up every morning and start the day before checking his phone. Now you will run the trial version for a week.
Initially, the trial went well. However, after the first few days, he noticed that he ended up grabbing his phone from outside his room and sitting on the couch to check social networks.
This causes you to modify your solution by adding an application on your phone to block social media accounts during the first hours of each day. Now go back to the test phase and complete the process.
Action phase: implement and apply the solution
Congratulations! He identified a problem in his life, implemented a solution, and modified it to correct any unforeseen problem.
Now is the time to implement that long-term solution to make a truly significant change in your life. The way you decide it is best to do so will depend on the situation.
I think the best ways to do this are by looking at other areas of your life where this solution could be applied. This helps to incorporate it into your lifestyle.
For example, you may also struggle with wasting time before going to sleep on social networks. If this is a habit you want to eliminate, you can now also transfer the solution you just tried to this problem.
Now that you have successfully addressed the initial problem with a solution that you have fully integrated into your life, it is time to start the cycle again.
After all, this process of continuous improvement is only continuous if you commit to continually improve different aspects of your life.
After having some experience with the PDCA cycle, you will find that each subsequent improvement is a bit easier to implement.
However, keep in mind that the process can be addictive. Once you start, you may not want to stop!
Work to Improve Your Life(Conclusion)
Continuous improvement is one of the ways you can work continuously to improve your life. Someday you will be able to look back on this process that you underwent and see it as your own reward.
Hopefully, this article motivates you to work to improve your life, even if it is already quite good. There is always room for improvement.
If you commit to a process of continuous improvements, such as the PDCA cycle, hopefully, you will minimize the time you spend looking back in your life and wishing you had done more.
I hope this article motivates you, inspires you, and gives you the necessary knowledge to strive to reach your full potential as you make small continuous improvements every day.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are continuous improvement strategies?
A continuous improvement strategy is any policy or process within a workplace that helps keep the focus on improving the way things are done on a regular basis. This could be through regular incremental improvements or by focusing on achieving larger process improvements.
How do you identify opportunities for continuous improvement?
Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan for change.
Do: Implement the change on a small scale.
Check: Use data to analyze 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.
How do you use continuous improvement?
Make small, incremental tweaks on the fly.
Arrange a meeting to discuss larger changes.
Clearly identify the problem or improvement.
Plan potential solutions.
Test changes in a non-live environment.
Monitor changes after deployment.
What are innovation and continuous improvement?
Continuous improvement and innovation, or CI&I, is a process that can be used to drive business improvement and innovation. It has eight steps that help business managers and employees focus on the improvements and innovations that will have the most impact on the goals of the business.