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Continuous improvement in business

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

Kaizen, a Japanese word and philosophy meaning “change for better”, reminds us that incremental and continuous improvement in life and business can and will propel us forward.

This philosophy is powerful, because the implementation of it is all inclusive, from the business owner(s) to the most junior employee.

The question is straightforward – which small improvements can we (on all levels in the business) identify which can be implemented immediately (meaning on the same day or as soon as possible, with little effort and other resources) which will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our business operations?

Further investigation on how kaizen is applied in business led us to the so-called “continuous quality improvement with the PDCA process”.

P = Plan: Plan business operations, e.g. manufacturing, packaging, marketing, distribution, sales and client support/after service processes – this plan sets the current standard of the work.

D = Do: Implement each plan.

C = Check: Inspect each element for quality assurance. When an error or deficiency occurs, we need to highlight it and move onto the next step: Act.

A = Act: Correct or improve the error or deficiency and incorporate it into the plan. A new baseline for the plan is placed, which should now be an improvement of the previous version.

By repeating this iterative process we have embarked on a continuous journey of improvement.

There is obviously much more to be learned on the philosophy and implementation of kaizen in a business. By teaching our staff and management this simple PDCA process, we are gearing our business up for continuous improvement, something which can propel us beyond our competitors and surprise our customers with every interaction they have with our business.

Let us focus our effort on the things we can influence and control and thereby grow our businesses in a very challenging business environment.

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to www.sanlamgameplan.co.za to download your free copy.

Sanlam is a proud Partner of the NSBC.