The term “continuous improvement” has been around a long time. The truth is most companies don’t do continuous improvement at all, rather they schedule improvements in batches and projects.
The effect of batch improvements is that “improvement” is not “business as usual” and people learn what they do every day, not what they do intermittently. That is one reason why it is usually necessary to precede a kaizen event with a training session.
But there is a deeper ramification here that challenges the very goal of the process.
We all assume (myself included up to this point) that the goal is continuous process improvement.
Maybe it is.
But we also say it is about developing people.
Processes come and go with new technology, new products, reorganizations, etc. The people are the only constant.
Let me float this idea out there –
How would your continuous improvement process change if you thought of its primary objective as continuously improving the capability of your people?
Process improvement would be a vehicle for people development. In effect, your success at process improvement would be an indicator of how well you were developing people.
To paraphrase a common expression, process improvement is the shadow of how well you develop your people.
That would mean if your process of continuous improvement is targeted at anything other than the capability of people, you are trying to move a shadow by pushing on it.
Its about the people.