In the business sector there is a lot of talk about continuous improvement, often in the context of becoming more efficient, effective, or competitive in the market.
The term continuous improvement focuses on making incremental changes that, over time, lead to major shifts in the business or it’s place in the market. It’s not a term that is often used in small to medium businesses, yet, for most startups or entrepreneurs, we practice continuous improvement every day.
As a business owner – vs an employee – our long-term goal (other than to make an impact, create change and so on) is to build a sustainable business. And to do so, we need to recognise and respond to our clients, the market, and our team.
In essence we need to be better and do better in order to have a greater impact, create change and build a legacy.
Remember when you first started coaching, or selling your product? I do!
My first official coaching session, I am pretty sure, was terrible! But what I lacked in experience I made up in passion! At the end, I reflected on how it went, what I should not have said, and the reaction of my client. I did this because I wanted to be sure my next session was better than the first (and, for the record, it was!).
This reflection and analysis of my performance was in simple terms, continuous improvement in action.
Do. Reflect. Adjust. Repeat.
No fancy process or training needed. Simply a desire to do better next time. To find new (and better) ways to work, so my impact would grow.
What I like about the idea of continuous improvement is that it provides an inherent motivator.
“Incremental changes, when compounded over time,
create a significant impact on the way you work.”
Just imagine I am coaching a soccer team. My focus each session is not on the team making goals, but rather improving communication, or their ball handling skills. Perhaps it’s to make more passes each game or gain more metres.
After one session, the change may not be noticeable, but after a few weeks, their performance will shift as the compounding effort of each of the small changes is felt…and they get closer to their goal.
While we like to have them, for most people, big goals are not great motivators. Why? Because the distance between where we are now and where we want to be is too big – and sits somewhere between I’ve never done it and I have no idea how to start!
“Big goals do not happen overnight.
When you set out to achieve a big goal, expect to progress in small steps.”
Taking a big goal and breaking it down to smaller goals, and then smaller steps again allows your mind to see the path it needs to take. When we begin to see how each small step will, over time, add up to achieving the big goal, it provides a daily reminder of why we are taking the action.
This process is the foundation of continuous improvement, (remember: Do. Reflect. Adjust. Repeat) and of creating positively charged habits that will support your path, and keep you motivated along the way.