Continuous improvement

Collect, score and select improvements to maximise innovation success!

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Continuous improvement in the context of innovation is the ongoing process of making small, incremental improvements to existing products, services, and processes in order to increase value for customers and create competitive advantage. It involves identifying opportunities for improvement, developing and testing solutions, and making changes that lead to better performance. Continuous improvement can help organizations maintain a competitive edge by staying up-to-date with market trends, responding quickly to customer feedback, and increasing efficiency.

  • Innovation Funnels, Pipelines and workflows

  • Gamification for people engagement

  • Smart automation and security

idea management for continuous improvements
  • Innovation Funnels, Pipelines and workflows

  • Gamification for people engagement

  • Smart automation and security

Key steps to success

Learn more about Continuous improvement

For every organization, it is important to continuously improve on your products, processes, strategies, business models, and user experience. In this day and age where organizational advancements are fast-paced, it is imperative for every business to improve.

Otherwise, the competition will swallow them whole. Hence, improving is not an option, but a must.

However, who finds the solutions for continuous improvement? Is it the CEO, stakeholders, financial department, or the company’s employees?

Here at Accept Mission, we believe that innovation is a powerful process, particularly when done with inclusivity. Thus, we believe that everyone in the organization has brilliant ideas and solutions to share when given the chance.

And these ideas can significantly help in continuously improving the company’s innovation efforts. However, what does continuous improvement in innovation even refer to?

Companies should continuously improve to:

  • Boost revenue
  • Lessen errors
  • Increase customer and employee satisfaction
  • Generate cost savings
  • Minimize resource waste
  • Increase operational efficiency
  • Decrease capital requirements and inventory levels
  • Improve sharing of knowledge and organizational learning
  • Increase product/service quality
  • Shorten feedback loop and time to value creation
  • Improve culture and employee engagement

The three types of renewal

To clarify the meaning of continuous improvement, we will divide innovation into three categories: invention, innovation, and improvement.

Invention

Organizations create inventions when they do their own research and development with the goal of developing anything that’s completely new to the world. This can come in the form of a product or a service that was never-before-seen by anyone.

Innovation

Meanwhile, innovation happens when the company uses, applies, or integrates something into the organization that’s already existing in the world, but has never been used or implemented in any way within the business.

This may refer to any technique, process, or equipment that’s already being used by other organizations, but is entirely alien to the company.

It is something that a specific business has to apply into its own set of methods and procedures to effectively and successfully meet customer demands.

Improvement

Finally, improvement refers to anything that’s already existing within the organization, but is in need of a few tweaks before finally being reapplied into the company. This is when enhancements are incorporated into anything that the company is already utilizing.

To demonstrate what continuous improvement truly means, here are some concrete examples that you can learn from:

Improving products

Enhancing products can come through a change in color, style, or even the addition of extra features that make a product more desirable to its target audience.

This is the process of making significant improvements to a product that bring in new clients or enhance the advantages being enjoyed by existing clients. Examples include:

  • Apple releasing the iphone with more color choices and camera megapixels
  • Facebook messenger adding more emojis to the software’s UI
  • Netflix offering games on top of movies and tv shows

Improving processes

These enhancements occur when a process is improved in terms of speed, methods, and performance to promote or accelerate efficiency in the manufacturing and delivery of the company’s product or service.

This kind of renewal is concerned with the procedures used to produce or market a product or service. In process improvements, the product is not altered in any manner. Rather, the processes used to produce or market what the company offers as a whole are improved.

Process improvement often involves adopting new technologies, software, hardware, equipment, machinery, and other enhanced procedures that help the company save time and other resources to serve clients better. Examples of process improvements include:

  • Restaurants adopting different types of payment methods, including apps like Paypal and other fintech-related systems
  • Online groceries and delivery to the shopper’s doorstep
  • Using a POS to record transactions in a retail shop

Improving customer satisfaction

Improved customer satisfaction may be an after-effect of improving products and processes. But these two can be in fact improved by ideas and solutions that help organizations in:

  • Implementing promos
  • Increasing customer engagement through social media channels, and 
  • Reaching out to customers via calls, emails, and feedback surveys

Improving organizational branding

Improving a brand means enhancing the customers’ views and perspectives of the company. This can be done by:

  • Enhancing brand message through words that mirror the organization’s objectives
  • Choosing values that resonate with the target audience and showing it via projects, like how the concept of food sustainability in restaurants is performed through farm-to-table practices
  • Designing high profile events that boost influence and sustainability

There are five major problems that you can encounter when fostering continuous improvement:

1. Lack of resources

Generally, innovation managers have to secure these resources when implementing innovation activities:

People
Your employees are by far your best resource for innovation. Hence, you must include them if you want to properly prioritize innovation within your business. This is why you should include innovation in your company culture.

That way, innovation becomes a habit— a practice that becomes embedded in the organization, so much that it becomes an attitude instead of a one-time activity.

When organizations invest in training employees for innovation initiatives, they begin to develop an innovative mindset with creativity and unique thinking.

Time
The necessity of time as a resource for innovation cannot be overstated. Unknowingly, some businesses do not always view time as a valuable innovation resource.

More often than not, companies are so focused on the normal 9 to 5 that they often forget to spend some time fostering innovation within the workplace. They wait for a major project or a  busy season to end before dedicating several hours on innovation initiatives.

A company that places a high priority on innovation will always schedule time for its most employees to brainstorm, design, and develop continuous innovation. For instance, you can set out several hours each month or perhaps each week for your employees to concentrate on innovative activities.

Equipment
There are times when the importance of equipment for continuous innovation is overlooked. However, in some instances, continuous innovation cannot be carried out without it.

This is especially true for a company that wants to improve some of its processes, like how it can improve its collaboration or ideation processes without the right software that fits its needs.

But whether it be software or hardware, most organizations only allow their employees to access their equipment for essential company functions, which are totally unrelated to their innovation initiatives.

In fact, some employees are frequently discouraged from utilizing workplace equipment if they are not working on a project that has been allocated to them.

Funding
Without specific funding that enables employees to implement their ideas, innovation cannot occur. As an innovative business, you should allocate a suitable portion of your money to fostering innovation. And if there is a budgetary gap elsewhere, it shouldn’t be relocated.

Money is a crucial resource that aids in fostering innovation, but without a group of creative problem solvers who have frequent access to tools and time set out for innovation, these funds will either be wasted or remain idle.

2. Lack of commitment

Innovation calls for an open mind and a strong commitment for long-term growth. In order for that to happen, businesses must learn how to adapt and modify their methods and strategies in relation to the changes found in their external environment.

It must establish an innovative mindset in the roots of the company’s culture to continuously foster and develop the universal language of creativity and innovation commitment.

There has to be a shared sense of purpose, enthusiasm, and consistency in striving to become better in every way. Without it, continuous improvement will have no place in the organization.

3. Unclear roles and responsibilities

Employees that have unclear or contradictory work responsibilities feel stressed out and undervalued. Performance suffers from vagueness and confusion. As the company’s innovation manager, you must help and equip your team members to perform innovatively.

Help them become more vocal about their ideas, give them tasks and responsibilities to work with, and let them become accountable for it. Giving your staff distinct responsibilities that capitalize on their unique strengths and exceptional skills is a good start.

Remember, an unproductive workplace can spring from unclear roles. Hence, the most important thing is that everyone understands their own obligations in your innovation initiatives and that they are held accountable for it.

To solve this, you can begin by applying the following steps:

  • Learn about the strengths of your team.
  • Ask them for their insights regarding your innovation needs.
  • Assign innovation roles, duties, and responsibilities.
  • Give individuals a sense of control over areas they’re assigned with.
  • Hold them accountable for their success and results.
  • Meet with them regularly to discuss your progress.

4. Slow feedback cycle

A system that gathers analyzes, and reacts to information in order to provide a better result is known as a feedback loop.

In other businesses, however, the feedback loop is sluggish, antiquated, slow-moving, and unfocused on the fundamental principles of how new technologies and systems are embraced by a sizable client base.

Companies cannot execute or develop continuous innovation that would provide genuine economic value if they do not use analytics and machine learning to gather and listen to the inputs of their market and employees.

And most crucially, you would develop slowly. As you can see, feedback loops take many different shapes and aren’t just relevant for manufacturers.

Feedback loops may be used by people in any company department and in any sector to promote a collaborative and innovative culture.

Here’s how you can go from a slow feedback cycle to a functional and responsive one:

  • Categorize the information you receive. When you have an intended inbox or a specific “pathway” for different types of information that you receive, you can respond to those insights easily as they aren’t all over the place.
  • Set some guidelines to ensure that the information you receive is actually useful for the company. This helps guarantee that every facet of the content is pre-examined. You can even place pre-programmed questions to simplify everything.
  • Look for the right tool. To make this whole process easier, use a tool specifically designed for feedback management.

5. Excluding employees from the process

When there is a culture of innovation in the workplace where employees are actively involved in the innovation process, everyone in the company feels more empowered and motivated to help in improving business processes, efficiency, and performance.

Excluding employees from the process would do the opposite. But, when you choose to practice inclusivity, you will also experience increased employee retention.

And this is because employees like to stay in places where they are given a voice—a company where their insights are valued and an organization that encourages teamwork.

Implementing continuous improvement means following the six stages of the innovation process, namely:

1. Discovery

The discovery stage entails discovering what improvements are needed in your product, brand, procedures, or service.

The main objective of continuous innovation is simple, and that is to incorporate any type of enhancements that would ultimately boost your business as a whole. In particular, this could be either your products, processes, customer satisfaction and even organizational branding.

Hence, it only makes sense that you dedicate a sufficient amount of time in researching which aspect needs improvement. This way, you wouldn’t have to waste your time, money, and resources in improving the wrong things.

2. Ideation

Ideation consists of gathering ideas, thoughts, and suggestions from both internal and external parties, including customers, partners, customers, and even workers. Here, you should come up with as many ideas as you can with the help of relevant individuals.

This means getting at least 300 to 1000 concepts to begin with; and that is to maximize the resources you have spent on the process and achieve the best results in the end.

3. Selection

Now that you’re done gathering options, it’s time to pick the best idea through a set of scoring and selection rounds. To make this stage effective, innovation managers must establish clear criteria before releasing all proposals for evaluation and feedback.

4. Decision

Once everyone has entered their scores, go over each recommendation and decide based on the idea that has received the greatest support.

5. Implementation

Implement the concept selected in the fourth phase and monitor its development.

6. Reporting

Observe your progress. Record developments, share insightful information, measure performance, and act quickly when further enhancements are needed.

Here’s how Accept Mission can help in developing continuous improvement:

Collect improvements and collaborate

Accept Mission provides innovators, product managers, and owners with the option to build up idea boxes for the collection and administration of all ideas for continuous improvement— all within the ideation software.

Funnel management

It is essential to use an idea management funnel if you want to complete the innovation process successfully. Your ideas will form the core of the improvements you’re about to make, so it will have a direct impact on the outcomes produced within your ideation stage.

Funnels offer a framework for evaluating the potential of innovative ideas. Here at Accept Mission, you can use our innovation funnels to create a steady supply of new ideas.

You can also thoroughly screen every concept and continuously evaluate it against a number of standards, metrics, and criteria. With Accept Mission, you can ensure that various innovative endeavours are generated and fed into the funnel’s wide mouth.

You can then evaluate each concept in different ways and at different stages to decide whether it is worth exploring before starting to restrict the funnel. Once everything passes through it, you are  then left with the opportunities you need to focus on.

These are possibilities that maximize resource use, meet project goals, and support corporate objectives.

Score improvements and choose the best

Clients, stakeholders, employees, and other relevant individuals can use Accept Mission to:

  • Score concepts using standards established by the organization’s innovation manager.
  • Choose the best concepts based on the ratings and information obtained from various sources.
  • Track the development of the concepts you choose until they are put into practice.

Additionally, as the administrator, you can

  • Set up the selection processes
  • Publish categories for expert scoring.
  • Create a reusable set of criteria for selection.

Automatic and Manual Idea Tagging

Accept Mission also provides a powerful tag system that offers perceptions into trends and improved concept analysis.

These tags can be manually added to certain concepts by users and admins. Additionally, tags can be added automatically depending on the description of an idea. This makes it simple to display concepts and simultaneously examine trends.

Reporting on the progress of changes deployed

Companies need to have a comprehensive understanding of all planned, ongoing, and completed innovation activities.

Every innovative endeavor for continuous improvement should be evaluated to see if, in what precise domains would it work fantastic in, how long it is being carried out, or if it is helping the company with one or more corporate strategic areas.

Therefore, innovation managers must evaluate the organization’s success in this area. To guide innovation activities in the appropriate directions, they must monitor all progress and outcomes.

Automated reporting of measured success and insights can help in this situation

Accept Mission can help you track and report progress via the app’s dashboards, which allows its users to incorporate reports with KPIs and graphs along with live data connection and workability with BI software like Power BI.

You can also use our bubble charts, Kanban boards, graphs, and Gantt charts to make reporting easier on your part.

Integrate it within the business

You can also use Accept Mission with Microsoft Teams or gadgets like your tablet and mobile. Plus, we can be integrated into your emails, too.

Other great features

Here are other powerful things that you can use within our software:

  • Launch innovation campaigns for new ideas on continuous improvement
  • Engage customers and other relevant parties to come up with new ideas via launching innovation campaigns and other activities like hackathons
  • Follow the progress of ideas and suggestions in funnels
  • Manage product life cycles
  • Allow customers and other significant stakeholders in scoring ideas for continuous improvement
  • Develop user-driven trend analytics
  • Create roadmaps for future products
  • Track and accelerate the progress of development roadmaps

To make continuous improvement easy for you, you can:

  • Include your employees in the innovation process.
  • Make people feel empowered enough to share their thoughts to other people.
  • Use the proper tools in developing continuous innovation.
  • Start building a culture of innovation within the company.
  • Improve your feedback loop and keep it organized.
  • Spend an ample amount of time in researching what qualities your target audience is looking for you to add within your products.
  • Commit a few organizational hours a week on innovation initiatives.
  • Collect 300 to 1000 ideas to get the best out of your ideation process when trying to brainstorm and generate concepts for continuous improvement.
  • Assign the right roles and responsibilities to your employees for accountability.
  • Match your employees’ innovation tasks with the knowledge and expertise they have so they’d feel motivated to do their part.
  • Improve your feedback cycle to effectively hear your employees and customers out.
  • Screen ideas for continuous improvement wisely by setting up highly relevant standards.
  • Involve your employees not only in the ideation process, but also on the selection part.
  • Use the right innovation tool for continuous improvement.

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