Crowdsourcing Continuous Improvement: Kaizen Principles and Practices for Amplifying Excellence

Many companies seek to improve their operations through the documentation of best practices. From personal experience in a large, multinational enterprise technology company, I saw how well-articulated procedures can be beneficial to the immediate users and their successors. However, these reflect only one person or one department’s experience, and lack collective insights.

Kaizen principles and practices
The “5 S’s” of Kaizen

The Kaizen Management Method is based on the idea that gradual, ongoing change (Japanese: “Kai”), is good (“zen”), for business. By focusing on small operational improvements on a regular basis, an organization can make significant, continuous improvements over time. Kaizen principles and practices can be broken down into “5 S’s”. These involve ‘sorting’ business practices (removing unnecessary actions or waste), setting the optimal practices in the best order within workflows, inspecting and improving what works (“shining”), and finally standardising and sustaining these optimised procedures

Having an idea crowdsourcing platform in place can help streamline the continuous improvement process, and make implementing Kaizen principles and practices far more efficient.

Harnessing Collective Intelligence – Harvesting Operational Excellence

Kaizen principles and practices - collective intelligence

To truly have an impact, best practices should be leveraged company-wide on a platform to encourage the crowdsourcing and sharing of winning ideas, methodologies, processes and other proposed operational improvements. Then best practices can become better through the input of peers, supervisors and management.

Collective brainstorming is healthy for employees, teams, and the company, while driving the business toward operational excellence.

By harnessing collective intelligence on a platform, the productive work habits of one individual or department can be expanded, improved, and shared. They can then be implemented universally, achieving the reach of operational excellence that best practices are intended to have.

Banking on Best Practices

Qmarkets’ Idea Management Software is designed to support Kaizen principles and practices. It offers a platform for taking someone’s great idea and sharing it. These are the seeds of gradual, consistent change on a large scale: collective brainstorming, feedback, evaluation and, ultimately, driving change and profits.

Kaizen principles and practices - best practices

In one relatively small branch of a highly revered regional bank, an employee adopted a new time-saving software application that proved successful in reducing paperwork without compromising compliance. Having received clearance by the bank Manager for its local use, the employee shared the new procedure through the Bank’s personalized Qmarkets Idea Management platform as a best practice case and proposed its use by colleagues in other branches.

The idea was made available to all staff for evaluation, consideration and discussion – especially by those for whom it would be most relevant. The proposal was improved – and questioned – then adapted based on geographic and divisional needs, and finally implemented to benefit the entire organization, its customers, and the bottom line.

Using the Idea Management platform, the best practice scenario was truly leveraged to enable all employees and branches to improve operations based on this Wisdom of the Crowd and Kaizen methodology.

Features to Sweeten the Game

Kaizen principles and practices - gamificationOffering employees another platform for social interaction is only as good as its interface and, in fact, its incentives…even if it is an integral part of the work environment. Our Q-max platform promotes Kaizen through gamification tools, including the accumulation of points, achievement of awards and incentive schemes to encourage users to repeatedly share and enhance best practices over a long period of time.

The system promotes sustainable productivity and maximum efficiency through remote interaction. This ensures that great ideas are acknowledged, the submitter is rewarded, and the idea is implemented, all within a defined time period. Gamification can also help to foster engagement, and build an employee-centric culture that can optimize performance. This is far more effective than corporate mission statements that don’t engage employees at all and are disregarded…and it is far more fun!

A Profitable Proposal for Getting Back on Track

For example, the sharp eye of a railway company employee turned long lines, and no funds to alleviate the congestion, into a win-win scenario by leveraging the Q-Max Idea Management platform.

Kaizen principles and practices - get back on trackCustomers in a Western Europe station were suffering massive waiting times for ticket purchases, which certainly caused some to miss their scheduled trains. Sensitive to the problem, but lacking a budget to add more ticket machines or customer assistants to accelerate ticket sales, the company needed to find an innovative solution to reduce the delays. Familiar with the flow of foot traffic, an astute field-worker drew a map of the platform, assessed the situation, and then published his findings on the Idea Management platform. He proposed that by strategically repositioning ticket machines, waiting times could be reduced by 50%! Peers and management were optimistic and the problematic station adopted the solution.

The results were so successful, they shared the idea with all stations across the country, involving colleagues throughout the network in saving the railway company lots of money, while increasing customer satisfaction…which is arguably more valuable.

Kaizen Principles and Practices Support Flexibility

One reason Kaizen is easily accepted and highly relevant to the company and its employees is that it is flexible – not forced. Even when assimilated into the platform, it can be developed as a single module within the larger Idea Management system, or the entire system can be defined through this philosophy.

Kaizen principles and practices - flexibilityEither way, the approach must be flexible and fully configured to each business’ objectives, identity, culture and infrastructure. By enabling very broad technical and visual configuration, Qmarkets helps engage employees in the process of improvements to support operational excellence, while differentiating the company from its competitors. Such changes can help enterprises ensure future prosperity and raise the morale of employees and shareholders alike.

In fact, an employee’s best work will be done when encouraged to suggest how operations can be improved and to collaborate with others in the organization to offer suggestions. Companies that reward their people for contributing ideas worth implementing, because of their potential impact on the bottom line, will strike gold.

Want to learn more about achieving corporate operational excellence through implementing Kaizen principles and practices? Contact us and we’ll schedule a call with you at your convenience.

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