What problem does this solve?
WMAT adopted an approach of continuous improvement of our daily proceedings which is also known as Kaizen, Japanese for "change for the better". It is a comprehensive improvement process that includes all processes and stakeholders of an organization and focuses on small steps and changes.
What is the solution?
Things to consider
- Every small idea for improvement is worth being discussed
- Collect problems (with or without an idea for a solution) and ideas for improvements right at the moment you have them. In teams who share an office this can be on a pinboard, in distributed teams it could be a shared wiki or spreadsheet
- Have short, regular meetings to discuss these new ideas / problems and the status quo of former improvements (do they work out or do they need adjustments) in your team (20-30 minutes maximum, e.g. every two weeks)
- When implementing improvements follow the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle:
- Plan: Discuss and plan the implementation in your meeting and assign a person who will be responsible for the necessary next steps
- Do: Incorporate the change in your procedures and make sure others know about it and do it as well
- Check: In one of the next meetings check whether the change lead to the desired outcome
- Act: If you did not achieve the desired outcome, discuss what modifications might be necessary and implement those by starting the cycle again
- The progress / status of each improvement process should be documented with a few words in a shared wiki or spreadsheet
- As with most things, communication is key: When implementing a quality approach in your team / organization make sure to create a common understanding on what quality is, why it is important and how everybody can benefit from it. It is cruical to avoid that stakeholders conceive it as a means to be controlled, assessed or supervised.
When to use
Quality should not only be an issue for big organizations - the sooner you start to implement awareness for quality in your team or organization, the more it becomes an integral component of your organizational culture and processes. This approach is especially suited for smaller entities as it does not require a disproportional amount of time and resources. It is a low-treshold approach that makes it easy for stakeholders to get involved and commit.