It should come as no surprise really, that the business world operates on many of the same concepts and principles of the natural world. One such concept is that you are either growing or dying. You are either pursuing health or you are deteriorating. In the business world, this means that constant improvement is necessary to maintain a flourishing organization. One of the best ways to ensure your business is constantly headed in the right direction is to create a culture of improvement. Like many things in life, building a culture of improvement is both a simple and complex challenge. Here are three ways to build a culture of improvement in your business.
- Don’t punish mistakes or failure
It took Thomas Edison more than 10,000 failed experiments before he came up with a working lightbulb. When asked about it, he replied that he hadn’t failed 10,000 times, he simply discovered 10,000 ways that didn’t work. If you punish failure, you stifle innovation. Rather than viewing “failed” experiments as failures, learn to see them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
- Get everyone involved
A mindset of continuous improvement needs to happen at all levels in order for it to have an impact on an organizational level. Even the smallest changes can have a significant impact on overall statistics for the entire organization. For instance, St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario, has been ranked as one of the three safest hospitals in Canada for three straight years. Six years prior, however, it was much lower on the list. Among other things, patient falls were unusually high. Within one year, patient falls decreased by more than 80% when a culture of improvement that engaged frontline nurses was established.
- Flatten hierarchies
A culture of constant improvement requires input and participation at all levels. When junior employees or associates don’t feel that their contributions are equally valuable, they will have a tendency to simply stop making them. Employees that are given a personal stake in creating improvement will generally work the hardest to create those improvements. For instance, hospital administrators have had a somewhat longstanding habit of creating policies and procedures that affect nursing staff without consulting the very nurses they affect. When nurses were given a greater ability to create their own policies and procedures, such as at St. Mary’s, performance vastly improved.