Running your organization with continuous improvement on your mind at every step is important, but it’s often hard to transfer an already existing structure to such a system without a significant amount of effort. In some cases, depending on how the organization is built exactly, it might even make no sense to try and adapt things to a new approach like that, but you’d rather benefit more from building a new system from the ground up.
In any case, when you’re setting up a new organization, doing it with continuous improvement in mind is one of the best things you can do to ensure the stability and prosperity of the system as much as you can.
Start Small, Build in Logical Increments
Don’t just dive into this expecting everything to fall into place by itself. Often, continuous improvement requires you to systematically address every aspect of your organization’s structure in order to eliminate potential bottlenecks before they’ve even occurred.
A good starting point is to split up the organization into logical components and visualize the way they are connected with each other. For example, your export department is not just one “black box” unit where things go in and out – it can be broken down into more discrete pieces, each of which can potentially have some impact on the other parts of the organization, or, on the other hand, be affected by some other part in an unpredictable way.
The key thing in this step is to get a good overview of the way the organization ticks at a fundamental level, and keep breaking things down until you can’t go any deeper. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify those fundamental pieces, but once you develop an intuition for it, you’ll start seeing those patterns all over the organization, sometimes in unpredictable places.
Ensure Feedback Can Be Heard
A common mistake in many modern companies is that valuable employee feedback gets lost in the noise, and sometimes ideas that are actually completely sound and could have a strong potential to improve the company end up getting swept under the rug.
If you want to ensure that you’ll be moving forward as fast as possible, you have to set up some system that will allow your employees to share their concerns about the company’s current state, and propose ideas for its improvement. Obviously you don’t need to listen to all feedback this system generates – it would actually be counterproductive to do so – but after all, it’s your duty as a leader to filter the good ideas from the bad ones, and to set things in motion for implementing the good ones.
Always Be One Step Ahead in Your Planning
If things go according to plan, your company will always be growing, often in multiple directions. This means that if you’re not planning ahead diligently, you might end up feeling like you’re drowning due to this new progress, instead of getting a positive feeling from it.
After all, if you don’t know exactly where your company is headed, you won’t be able to react properly to the events that define its future. It’s actually not rare that a company making solid progress fails due to a problem like this, and the risk is very real if you don’t do proper planning. You must always be one step ahead of the whole situation, and as soon as a new development occurs that requires you to make a choice, you must already know what that choice is well in advance.
Continuous improvement is one of those things that everyone wants to have in their organization, but only true leaders are prepared to put in the actual amount of work required. Make no mistake, this is one of the best ways to invest your hard work and research, and the payoff can be huge. On the other hand, if you fail to even plan for continuous improvement, one day your company may strike a lucky development, and you’ll find yourself completely unprepared to deal with it and make proper use of it. And from then on, you can only expect things to go downhill.