Continuous Improvement and the 2012 Olympics

Top Olympic athletes and their trainers achieve continuous improvement with constant examination and measurement. The proof of their success can be measured in seconds, inches, pounds, or, in the case of the 2012 Olympics, in personal improvements and world records:  44 new world records, 117 new Olympic records. In business, teams can adopt a similar philosophy in order to identify and confront key issues.

Kaizen vs. TQM

Kaizen is a Japanese word that translates to “continuous improvement” in English. The Kaizen philosophy points to a disciplined process of systematic exploration, controlled experimentation, and adopting new procedures.

The Kaizen philosophy is only the Japanese version of what business professionals the world over call Total Quality Management (TQM).

TQM incorporates continuous improvement though increasing quality and performance in order to meet (or hopefully exceed) the customer’s expectations. This is done by integrating key functions and processes throughout the business and examining overall quality measures used by the company.

How is this done? Lots and LOTS of data. Big Data.

BIG Data

Today’s Olympic athletes are “big data,” in that every facet of their health, diet, and performance are measured to the smallest increment.  They are the most quantified athletes in history; the so-called quantified self.

In business, recent advances in technology provide easier access to more robust data and different kinds of digital dashboard software available. You can measure your company’s health and performance too: it simply comes down to choosing the right software in order to measure your data.

The more data you have about your company, the more you can drive a culture for continuous improvement. The more you measure your business processes, the more you learn about how the customer is affected by each process.

Bring it on Home utilizes a number of different techniques for managing and improving our customers’ experience such as call center software, emails, and live chat.  Each one can be measured in terms of success and overall customer satisfaction.

Measuring our customer’s satisfaction with surveys provides customer-specific feedback and allows us to take into account specific issues that matter most to the customer and improve them to provide the best possible experience. Just like a professional athlete, we measure our success and then strive for perfection.

Record-breaking 2012 Olympics

Over the course of time, we can see that athletes who compete in the Olympics are getting better, stronger, and faster than their previous counterparts. For example,Usain Bolt’s incredible 100m world record breaking time was worlds away from any gold medal winner’s time back in the early 1900s.  In fact, today the top U.S. sprinter in the 8 year old age group, would handily beat the gold medal winner from the early 1900s’.  Amazing.

The 2012 Olympic competitors broke 44 world records and 117 Olympic recordsthroughout the games. This would not have been possible without a philosophy of continuous improvement. Every four years, records are broken and new ones are set, which means, Olympic athletes are only getting better and better.

To continuously improve your business, you must think like an Olympic athlete in terms of getting better.  Nothing is more indicative of ways to improve then measuring your own performance.