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Some of our nation’s best-run businesses are driven by a compelling principle the Japanese call “Kaizen”—the ongoing, systematic, incremental improvement in the way things are done. Many companies have adopted one or more formal methodologies to achieve “continuous improvement.” However, these powerful strategies are rarely considered by small business owners—a fact I hope to change!
Below are listed four widely used business improvement methodologies and my layman’s description of their essential nature and purpose. Keep in mind that these methods aren’t just for big business. They also apply to YOU and your everyday systems such as marketing, hiring, production, customer service, order fulfillment, and so forth. They are relevant to both service-based and product-based companies. They can be applied in the office or on the production line. Think about how each may be used to improve YOUR business!
Remember, without a conscious effort to improve quality and efficiency—using recognized principles and techniques—you will hover in the 2-3 Sigma range and lose a significant portion of your potential profit. Effective business systems unquestionably pay for themselves many times over!
Don’t let myths about process improvement prevent you from taking the plunge. Small businesses everywhere will eventually have to learn these principles to stay competitive and excel in the 21st Century. I hope you won’t be left behind.
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