Is the goal of your organization to target continuous or continual process improvement or both? While the one utilizes a linear, additive approach to making changes to an existing process, the other very distinctly encompasses disparate approaches, covering different focus areas and processes.  With continuous improvement, targeting a single method may pinpoint specific weaknesses or strengths, expediting a specific change, but ignores the relationships between connected processes and lessons learned.  On the other hand, continual improvement evaluates and responds to cross-process dependencies, addressing the bigger picture, but may be less time sensitive and broader in scope.

In a truly self-improving culture, a company will implement both continuous and continual development and changes.   If an organization ignores the immediate concerns and identified issues in favor of waiting for more robust long-term alterations, serious quality problems may spiral out of control, affecting the overall health and viability of the company.  In comparison, an organization that does not at least evaluate and consider the dependencies between different business aspects and quality processes will stifle the long-term growth of the company and limit the effectiveness of improvement culture.

The question arises – How to effectively and efficiently manage both paths to improvement?  Can a single business platform or software workflow application provide both types?

  • Continuous Improvement – Addressing hot spots with corrective and immediate actions that build on previous responses, effectively resolving key concerns in a timely manner.
  • Continual Improvement – Utilizing the operating experience gained, while trending the interconnection between different business workflows to gradually improve the overall quality level of an organization.

Whatever underlying methodology and subsequent toolset is selected, a company will only be successful if they are able to manage both continuous and continual process improvement and make it a part of the basic company culture.