Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is an on-going effort to improve business processes, products or services. It is the idea of always seeking better ways to accomplish goals by reducing waste and developing a better product or service in a more efficient way. While continuous improvement is rooted in the manufacturing industry, today many models are being applied to business operations such as such as:

  • Continuous Improvement Model
  • Six Sigma
  • Kaizen
  • The Four Pillars of Continuous Improvement

Change Management

Effective change management in the virtual environment requires a paradigm shift from the traditional way of managing change to a comprehensive understanding of communication issues, workflow and processes, technology obstacles, as well as internal culture and external sociocultural elements. Some examples of effective ways to manage change include:

  • Communicating the purpose of change
  • Creating a communication plan and follow it
  • Including stakeholders throughout the process
  • Encouraging two way communication
  • Facilitating regular conversations through social media tools such as Zoom
  • Utilizing online collaboration tools such as Google docs

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is an approach to change and problem solving with a focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. Whether an individual, team, or organizations, using AI means identifying achievements and building upon them. It is a way of identifying concerns, obstacles, and changes through inquisitive learning in order to enhance what is already effective and productive. Some ways to apply AI for problem solving include:

  • Encouraging investigation of existing achievements (either of an individual, team, or organization)
  • Focusing on the strengths and not the weaknesses
  • Identifying elements that promote success
  • Asking positive questions
  • Using positive visioning to inspire action

Risk Mitigation

Risk management is a necessary and important part of any organization. Every operation within an organization must be continuously analyzed for risk assessment and mitigation. The same practice applies to virtual organizations, but there are additional inherent risks that must be considered. Some examples include:

  • Knowledge management
  • Diversity of virtual teams
  • Geographical dispersion of teams
  • Technology
  • Communication¬†

Business Continuity

The ability of an organization to maintain vital operations during or after a disruption or crisis is critical to its success or failure. Virtual organizations, just as brick and mortar, must have a plan in place should crucial operations fail, to recover quickly to get back up and running. Examples of areas that should be included in a continuity plan include:

  • Initial response
  • Recovery - backup technology
  • Restoration