Building A CI Culture In The Work Place

Countless articles and publications have been written on how people and organizations in this rapidly changing world need to constantly acquire new skills and knowledge to make people marketable and keep organisations competitive. This is important as companies require their employees to continue to be open minded and to buy in to the ever changing market place. In order for the company to survive and not die out like like the dinosaurs and to remain competitive by managing their cost base they need their staff to be adaptable.

It is good to know that it generates a lot of conversation within organisations but it is also lacking action at management level. The reason is that the majority  do not know what that means in practice. One thing is for sure, it’s not just about ongoing training. The traditional model of workplace learning is no longer adequate or appropriate; The work of a manager must now be much wider and deeper than before. They need to be able to build, lead and coach their teams and should themselves be able to understand and demonstrate they have an understanding of how Continuous Improvement (CI) should be implemented.

This starts with building a continuous learning culture in which each one is responsible for their own improvement process, and learning the continual evolution, and a culture in which managers play a key role in making it an integral part of their daily work , In other words, learning and development is no longer just an organisational function but a continuous organizational process. Yes it should start at the top of the business management structure but equally the employees that make up the foundation of the business needs to buy into this. It is no longer enough for a management drip down to the employees below, they need to be assured they can make a difference and will be listened to when they come up with new ways of working that improves the company processes and can demonstrate the improved output. This should encompass reward & recognition schemes that recognise individuals input and team input for improvements. This should not be a one off either, it should become part of business as usual activity and part of the company culture.

I myself worked for a large multi-national and was trained in CI to a high level and successfully delivered a Green Belt CI project which saved my company £100,000 annually on an existing process. I project managed a small team of individuals which I was able to coach and develop throughout the period. I also achieved coaching accreditation but the most important thing was I was  given the opportunity to develop the right skill set which allowed me to help others and to give them the means to develop themselves. As a manager you can not do it all yourself but you have to be prepared for challenge and ensure the team have the right tools available to them to allow them to deliver the objectives be what they may and help them to express themselves and think outside the box.

Dependent on the size of the company the reality of today’s Learning & Development department is merged with Business Improvement and  that their work now needs to be transformed into three overlapping strands to support all these forms of learning. This could just be a few people or a whole department but in any case for this work it needs buy in from everyone involved in the company as it will impact on all the stake holders of a company. It should also be part of a company mission statement so that they can be judged against this.

1 – Promote Continuous Learning

That means supporting the people to organise and manage their own continuous improvement and personal development,  in addition to a continuous stream of learning opportunities.

2 – Create Modern Content, Events and Experiences

This means using advanced formats and deployment methods to provide advanced training and performance support on-demand, compliance, or, where appropriate, to address performance issues. They need the opportunity to demonstrate this in the workplace.

3 – Support Continuous Improvement at Work

It means helping managers develop their teams and creating a culture of knowledge sharing while helping employees make the most of their day-to-day work. Ensuring that internal / external course development is available to those who have shown a willingness to improve themselves and that self development is encouraged in the work place.

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