Innovative continuous improvement can help companies get (and stay) ahead of the competition. Continuously improving processes and systems reduces errors and waste while increasing productivity. At first, improvements may be focused on minimizing or eliminating major issues within your processes and systems. After these problems are solved, what comes next?
To take full advantage of the potential benefits of continuous improvement, solving big problems is not enough. Next, you must identify opportunities for improvement that allow your business to thrive, rather than merely survive. There are a number of ways to find and prioritize opportunities within your processes.
5 Methods for Identifying Opportunities
- Meet your business goals. Your business strategy and IP strategy must be closely aligned. This includes all parts of the innovation lifecycle. Identify improvement opportunities with the potential to help your business meet its strategic goals.
- Involve the right people and tools. Find opportunities for improvement with cross-team collaboration and third-party tools. Approaching a system or process from different perspectives may help identify unique or untraditional ways to increase productivity or decrease waste.
- Consider how often the process is used. High-volume or high-frequency systems should be prioritized. Improving these elements of your business has a greater impact than similar innovations on lesser-used systems.
- Identify physical bottlenecks. Not every opportunity for improvement will be physically visible during your busiest times. Bottlenecks in any part of your process are obvious when you’re designing, manufacturing, and shipping at high volumes. Identify where your products or services get stuck and work to eliminate those problematic points in the process.
- Determine how long current practices have been in place. A process that works well—and has for many years—may be initially passed over as an opportunity for improvement. However, as a company matures, older systems may be ripe for changes that better align with business goals and today’s best practices.