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Continuous Improvement trends for 2013

Increasingly challenging market circumstances are forcing more and more businesses either to adapt or become extinct. As the speed of change continues to accelerate, more and more businesses are turning to Continuous Improvement to ensure their long-term sustainability.
As Continuous Improvement becomes commonplace in the successful organisations of the future, it is important to take note of the most important trends in Continuous Improvement:

1. Increased emphasis on a holistic approach: More and more businesses are realising that it is for their own benefit to interact with and support their employees in all aspects of their lives, and not just work. Many businesses are now assisting employees to live better, healthier and more balanced lives, and enabling their employees to focus better on their work and deliver to the best of their abilities. Organisations that take this approach are seeing drastic reductions in absenteeism as well as improved business results.

2. People empowerment: There is an increased focus on assisting employees to develop a wide range of skills effectively. In addition, it is important for businesses to create an environment in which employees can apply these skills to the benefit of their employer, whether directly or indirectly. Delegating autonomy and responsibility to all levels throughout the organisation are characteristically evident in the cultures of successful companies. This strategic move away from bureaucracy enables organisations to react better and faster to changes - continuously adapting and evolving to stay ahead of their competitors. Although high-level objectives for the overall organisation are set to be in line with the business strategy, all employees are now enabled, encouraged and required to define how they can best contribute to the overall business goals. This has proven to be a more efficient and successful approach than forcing projects down on employees working in middle management.

3. People engagement: With the vast amount of information easily accessible via the Internet and the ability of news to go viral on social media, many companies have realised that it is time to pursue people engagement strategically as a competitive advantage. Businesses on the cutting edge of innovation are using social media as a key tool in knowledge management.

4. Refinement of recruitment and retention strategies: Too many companies have been burned by flawed traditional recruitment strategies and are now turning to a more practical approach for getting the best candidates on board. There is also an intentional shift away from monetary reward systems to establishing reward systems that deliver benefits that employees truly value and that make them want to stay with their employing companies - developing employee loyalty that cannot be "bought".

5. Collaboration is key: Companies are collaborating with their key suppliers, leveraging partnership purchasing and obtaining benefits far outreaching those realised by businesses still oblivious to the true value waiting to be unlocked in their supply chains.

How far along the route are you on your Continuous Improvement journey? Are you part of the trendsetters excelling in your industry? Or are you lagging behind, delaying the pursuit of Continuous Improvement, still believing that what you have always done will continue to serve you well in the future? Don't delay or you may just find your business wasting away in 2013. Ultimately the choice is yours - to Continuously Improve or become extinct.