Continuous Improvement: Bringing Out the Best Through Friendly Competition
Continuous improvement has become an increasingly popular buzzword across industries but achieving steady improvement over time is more challenging than it sounds, especially as each improvement raises expectations for the next. The root of continuous improvement strategies comes from recognition that incremental improvements made over time add up to profound improvements to business processes. A wonderful theoretical, but many companies tend to stall out, implementing a handful of improvements and setting aside their continuous integration strategy until the next time inspiration strikes. At Compass Electronics Solutions our dedicated employees have set out to make continuous improvement a truly continuous process with a fun and friendly competition!
Every month our team of engineers brainstorm and implement improvements to drive efficiency, improved quality, and customer service. Each team member is given the opportunity to present their ideas to engineering management, company leadership, and a special monthly guest judge for review and scoring. The panel of judges then evaluates the merits of each improvement and selects the winner of the month who will earn the award and prize!
Improvements are evaluated on 6 key criteria – financial impact, feasibility, creativity, benefit to company, definition of goals, and identification of action items. Each of the criteria aim to assess an aspect of improvement to favor proposals that carry the broadest reaching impact on business processes. The prize and award amount to recognition that fosters a friendly, competitive atmosphere that helps our team to approach problems creatively and identify implementable solutions. As a monthly competition, we ensure that there is never a lull in improving processes and strive to stay on the leading-edge of our industry.
So how has this helped us achieve continuous improvements? One recent winner of our continuous improvement competition was a proposal to upgrade automated CAD software for customer engineering drawings, saving substantial time and costs associated with using outside CAD contractors. Another winning idea involved a proposal to insource specific wire harness builds improving efficiency and quality while limiting component expenses. Each improvement served to optimize processes and benefit not only our company, but also end customers who reap the benefits of improved products and reduced costs. But perhaps the best part of the continuous improvement competition comes from the fact that each participating engineer implements a new improvement every month. The spirit of friendly competition inspires and rewards ingenuity, but at the end of the day every improvement serves to further our goal of genuinely continuous improvement, not just the winning proposals.
“Continuous improvements will push us to be better every day, it is great to see that we are creating a habit of becoming better and making our production leaner by the day. The work that all the engineers are doing is great! They have been putting a lot of thought and creativity to make us a more productive manufacturing facility!” – Javier Martinez, Engineering Supervisor & Continuous Improvement Competition Leader