Happy New Year! It is the first day back in the office after our festive break. One of the topics of conversation has been New Year’s resolutions. While the concept of making resolutions to change once a year is not really in the spirit of continuous improvement, at least it is a traditional way of making people reflect on things and identify ways to change and improve.
As lean practitioners, often we hear people in our projects or workshops claim that changes haven’t been made because “this is the way we’ve always done it”. The process improvement project offers people an opportunity to reflect and create plans for improvement. However like New Year’s resolutions it can be very easy for changes to be diluted or reversed completely over time.
How can we make sure that improvements are implemented, sustained and continue to be developed and enhanced? One of the key elements that support continuous improvement is creating a culture where small, incremental improvements are accepted and rewarded. Yet, institutional culture change is hard and takes a long time in a complex organisation. So, my new year’s resolution is to welcome daily kaizen, to try to focus on the small improvements I can make, and use these as stories to help and support others who are also trying to make improvements. I’m also going to eat less chocolate; I suspect the former resolution might be more rewarding.