10 December 2020 – For years, I have been an advocate of kaizen or continual improvement. Sometimes, the best way to grow your business, win new customers, and create a product that everyone loves isn’t to make massive sweeping changes or introduce brand new ideas. It is to make small improvements, consistently, over time.
As 2020 draws to a close, I have started thinking about my plans for 2021 and beyond. Continual improvement will be my number one focus next year. I want to review every single process and team in the business and try to make the small tweaks to how we do things that will have the biggest impact over the long term: a small step to make a big change!
I won’t be trying to achieve this alone. We have hired a brilliant new Customer Success Director, Adrian Hope, who is a black belt in Six Sigma. This means he understands the principles of continual improvement, and how to build lean organisations. Most importantly, he knows how to inspire and lead teams in making those improvements happen.
Six Sigma was borne out of lean manufacturing and statistical analysis. Toyota famously used the model to become a world-beating brand. But I want to take continual improvement to another level: it’s not just about BigChange, I want to help our people to keep improving, learning and acquiring new skills too.
This has been a hard year for many people. I have read a lot of stark warnings about how the pandemic has crippled aspiration, and stifled careers. I feel incredibly lucky that BigChange has traded successfully through this difficult year and I want to show my appreciation to the team by investing in them. We will be bringing in talented experts and trainers to share their knowledge and help build a multitude of skills within BigChange.
2021 will also be a year that I look to make improvements in myself, and try and hone my leadership skills. If you stop learning, you stop growing. That is why I am going to step up my coaching programme, learning from truly inspirational leaders. I am also going to attend as many events and conferences as I can. This year has taught us all that there is no substitute for face-to-face connections, and I want to learn and develop alongside colleagues and peers.
We have been in business for eight years now, and we have learned so much on this journey. I can’t believe how far we have come. That is all down to the incredible positive attitude of the team here at BigChange. We haven’t always got everything right but instead of being critical or focusing on problems, my colleagues have worked out solutions and turned every challenge into an opportunity to learn.
Five years ago, we won one of our first really big customers. It was a real milestone in the history of the business, proving that we had the systems and technology in place to attract enterprise contracts. It is a testament to our commitment to continual improvement that the same customer just renewed that contract for a further period.
I like to think of continual improvement as cementing the foundations of the business, and building resilience as we grow. Without those improvements, your infrastructure can struggle to keep up with the pace of change. But it’s about more than that: it’s about ensuring that everyone in your business shares the same mentality, the same passion to make the product and service better and better. We will never be satisfied with ‘good enough’.
What are you doing in 2021 to cement your foundations?