Like most concepts and approaches in ITIL®, the Continual Improvement Approach can be used not just for IT Service Improvements but for any improvements that are needed. Even those in your personal life.
Continual Improvement Model
What Is The Vision?
It all starts with understanding what the vision, goals and objectives are. In IT, we look at what these are for the business. In your personal life, you need to have a vision of how you want to be seen by others and then identify goals and objectives to move you toward that vision.
Where Am I Now?
Once you have established what these are, you need to do an assessment of where you are now in the achievement of these. As part of this, it is often useful to determine your critical success factors. What are the things you must do to achieve these goals and objectives? What must happen? And then, assess are they being done and if so, to what level?
Where Do You Want To Be?
The next step is “Where do you want to be? ". It is important here to not just look at where you want to be when the vision is realized, but where do you want to be in: 30 days, 60 Days, 90 Days. Once you have determined this, you need to establish how you will measure your progress towards these goals. If the vision is to be seen as a well-read author and the goal is to write 10 books and you have only written one, then one of your Critical Success Factors may be that you need to write more. To ensure you move towards this, you might say that you need to have 10 chapters written in 30 days, 20 in 60 and a book completed in 90 days. Your Key Performance Indicators would be the number of chapters completed and the number of books completed.
How Do I Get There?
Next is determining how you are going to achieve these targets. This might often cause you to look at improvements you need to make to the process you use for writing, changes you need to make in your environment, your working habits, etc. then create a plan for how you are going to implement these changes.
Once you have the plans in place it is time to act on these plans. This may often include changing the way you behave. Now in business, you change the way the business behaves by changing the way the people within the organization behave, their working habits and attitudes. This is something referred to as Organizational Change Management. You also must assess the risk of making these changes as well as the risk of not making these changes. And of course, with every change you want to monitor your Key Performance Indicators to see if these are trending in the right direction.
Did We Get There?
This brings things to the next step, “Did we get there?” Have you made the right improvements and changes to move you towards the vision? Are you now meeting your critical success factors? If not, where are you and what needs to be further improved?
How Do We Keep The Momentum Going?
The next step is critical, “How do you keep the momentum going?” One of the ways to do this is to understand that achievement of the vision is done over time and the improvements that you make need to be done in an iterative approach. Take small steps. Don’t try to write 10 books, write that first one. Celebrate that first win then look at how you achieved it, what lessons did you learn along the way and how can you apply them into writing that next book. ITIL® refers to this as the Deming Quality Cycle of Plan, Do, Check, Act. With each iteration of this cycle you will improve the speed with which you move closer to that vision.
About the Author
Chuck Spencer, Flycast Partners ESM Practice Lead, is a certified ITIL Expert and trainer with over 30 years of experience in IT Service Management. He holds additional certifications in Organizational Change Management, ISO 20000, Cobit, and Scrum and is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.