Kaizen and the Art of Incremental Improvements
Incremental Improvements are Key to Success
Recently, I’ve become fascinated with the concept of “Kaizen.” Even the term “Kaizen” is something that rings a familiar bell at EDGEPro. Broadly defined, Kaizen (which translates literally to “Good Change”) is the process of continually seeking out incremental improvements, constantly making small steps to improve your business processes, whether they be customer service, purchasing, merchandising choices, or office flow processes. At GPN Technologies, we use different terminology, but the concept is identical. And EDGEPro is uniquely appropriate to supporting this type of approach to business.
To give a little background, Kaizen is a team-oriented approach. Managers work in concert with other team members, encouraging each person to find ideas to make continual improvements to the business. While we never stop looking for “big ideas,” we also encourage lots of “little ideas.” Little ideas have some significant advantages; they are easy to implement, cost little, and typically involve little risk. And the cumulative effect of tens, dozens, or hundreds of these small improvements can have an enormous impact on your bottom line: staff members are more engaged and invested in the business success; patient experiences are improved; and of course, cost-savings and revenue-boosting are welcome in any form.
Minimize Economic Downturns
Incremental improvements in business also have a significant advantage in sluggish economies or geographic areas that have lower economic growth rates. Where it may not make sense in some circumstances to take larger financial risks for expansion, remodeling, or upgrading equipment, kaizen improvements are often low- or no-cost alternatives that continually keep your business moving forward. Businesses that focus on these constant improvements also foster positive work environments, and may be less likely to experience higher staff turnover.
Four Steps to Success
But how does EDGEPro fit in here? One of the key ingredients in a successful “incremental improvement” approach is the concept of “PDSA.” This acronym stands for “Plan, Do, Study, Adjust,” and here’s where things get magical. EDGEPro helps with every step of this process approach.
PLAN: Practice owners are often unclear about what areas of their businesses need the most focus – how can we get the most bang for our buck? EDGEPro is a perfect analysis tool for uncovering the answer to that question. (Want even more clarity? Check out EDGEPro’s opportunities dashboard.)
DO: Once you’ve decided on a new process or plan, use EDGEPro to incentivize your staff members. The incentive setups are extremely flexible – you can set up rewards programs based on specific add-ons, frame or lens brands, 2nd pair sales, overall sales, etc. Use these tools to give your employees tangible rewards for participating in your plan.
STUDY: Use your playbook, or set up routines within EDGEPro that focus on the area you’re working on, and watch the results. In literally minutes a day, you can easily keep track of your progress, and share the outcome with your team to keep them focused and engaged.
ADJUST: Make micro-adjustments based on real-time information. Use EDGEPro to help you understand what strategies have been successful, and which ones need a little more fine-tuning.
Never Stop Improving
And don’t stop! Kaizen is a continual process, and EDGEPro is a perfect tool for fostering this attitude of success. When you’ve reached your goals, the next avenue of approach is at your fingertips – EDGEPro will help you find and focus on the next goal, and maintain the results of your previous efforts. It’s never been easier to decide how and where to concentrate and improve your bottom line.
This article was previously published by GPN Technologies and has been updated for relevance.
Yvonne Pelkey began working for GPN Technologies in 2014. Yvonne has an Associate Degree in applied science from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and a Bachelor Degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond. She has 30 years of ophthalmic experience in both private practice and retail optical environments. Yvonne was an ophthalmic assistant for a pedicatric ophthalmologist, as well as an adjunct faculty member at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. She is also a licensed optician in the state of Virginia and has her ABO and NCLE certifications. In 2013, Yvonne was recognized as both Optician of the Year by the Opticians Association of Virginia and Most Influential Women in the Optical Industry.
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