April 27, 2016

There’s a difference between continuous improvement and continuous change, according to Tom Root, the Managing Partner of Zingerman’s Mail Order, who led the ZingTrain session on April 13. Both involve making changes, but only continuous improvement is focused on creating change that improves a situation.

To effect positive change that results in a greater quantity or better quality of a product or service, Root recommends the following four-step plan:

  1. Break down the job: List all of the details of the assignment/job as it’s currently accomplished (this includes any materials you may use, etc.)
  2. Question every detail: Look at each detail and ask, “Why is this necessary? What is its purpose? Who is best qualified to do it? How is the “best way” to do it?”
  3. Develop the new method: At this point, determine where you can combine details or steps in your process. This is also a good point to eliminate any unnecessary details and/or rearrange for a better sequence.
  4. Apply the new method: After you sell your proposed improved method to leadership and employees who would use the method, put it to work. Use it until a better way is developed.

In the end, if your new method doesn’t see improvement in relation to safety, quality, quantity or cost, it’s just change.

Interested in learning more about Zingerman’s leadership and business concepts? Check out the ZingTrain session scheduled for August 31. In “Managing Ourselves: Leading the Life We Want to Lead,” attendees will learn how being able to manage and modify oneself as a leader is guaranteed to yield more productive, effective work.

For more information, or to register for the next seminar, click here.