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How to Select the Right Continuous Improvement Model For Your Public Sector Organisation

Public sector organisations should always be looking to improve their services and systems to provide the best possible service for the public. It is crucial to consistently be evaluating and reflecting on how services can be improved.

However, identifying and improving areas of improvement is easier said than done. That’s why it can be extremely useful for the public sector to draw inspiration from the private sector and the strategies they use to Implement Continuous Improvement (CI).

Using continuous improvement in the public sector

What is Continuous Improvement?

Continuous improvement is a systematic approach to enhancing an organisation’s performance and effectiveness. It involves constantly evaluating and refining processes, practices, and products to increase efficiency, quality, and user satisfaction.

Continuous improvement requires significant commitment, effort, and a willingness to adapt and improve how you do things. It’s about seeking opportunities and areas for improvement in a proactive and engaged fashion, rather than waiting for problems to arise.

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Why is Continuous Improvement Important?

In a public sector context, the right continuous improvement method is particularly important as it can help to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of services, save money, and ultimately improve outcomes for citizens in the long term.

By implementing a CI strategy, public sector organisations can better identify areas for improvement, set measurable goals, and develop a plan to achieve them. This can help to create a culture of innovation and excellence within the organisation and ensure that you deliver the best services possible.

How to Choose the Right Continuous Improvement Model

There are many frameworks and methodologies that are championed as the perfect solution by their respective fans, but the truth is that the CI model that works best is the one that best fits your organisation’s specific and unique needs.

Choosing the right strategy requires careful consideration of your goals, current state, culture, and available resources. There are many to choose from, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Understanding Three of the Most Popular Continuous Improvement Models


Derived from the Japanese words “Kai” (change) and “Zen” (good), there are no prizes for guessing what Kaizen is all about. This approach to continuous improvement is focused on making small, incremental improvements to processes and systems over time. 

What are the benefits of using Kaizen? 

  • Places emphasis on involving everyone in the improvement process
  • Creates a culture of continuous improvement
  • Allows you to drill down to the root cause of the problem

From the CEO to the assembly line, everyone has a voice, and everyone has something valuable they can contribute. 

Is the Kaizen model right for your organisation?

Kaizen is best suited for organisations that want to create a CI culture and involve everyone in that process. It is particularly effective in teams with highly repetitive processes, where small changes can have a significant impact on productivity and quality. Kaizen is also well-suited for organisations that want to improve quality and increase efficiency in a more gradual and less risky way.

What is the Kaizen Improvement Process?

The 5 Key Stages of the Kaizen Improvement Process include:

  1. What is the root cause of the problem?
  2. How can we address the root cause of the problem?
  3. Are changes being carried out consistently?
  4. What impact are our continuous changes having?
  5. How else can we keep improving?

While the Kaizen improvement process has proven to be effective for many organisations, it is important to note that it might not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on your organisation's specific needs and goals, you may need to modify the Kaizen improvement process to ensure that it aligns with your overall strategy.

This might involve tweaking certain stages of the process or incorporating additional steps to ensure that you achieve the desired outcomes.

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Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology that focuses on improving the quality of products and services by reducing variability and defects. It was first introduced at Motorola in the 1980s and has since been embraced by organisations around the world.

Why use Six Sigma?

Six Sigma uses a rigorous, scientific approach to identify and eliminate sources of variability in processes and systems. Some benefits of using Six Sigma include:

  • Higher quality products and services
  • Strong focus on the end result for the user
  • Can deliver significant improvements quickly
  • And in turn, achieve measurable results fast

When Six Sigma isn’t the right fit

However, one weakness to keep in mind is that it can be time-consuming and quite complex to implement. It requires significant investment in training and resources to build the necessary skills and infrastructure. Additionally, it might not be the best for organisations and teams looking to make smaller, more incremental changes.

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Lean is a methodology that focuses on identifying and eliminating waste in processes and systems to increase efficiency and improve quality. It originated, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the manufacturing industry but has since been adopted by organisations across many industries.

The benefits of using Lean

Lean’s strength lies in its focus on reducing waste and involving everyone in the improvement process and empowering them to identify and eliminate waste, Lean helps create a more engaged and motivated workforce. Other benefits of using Lean include...

  • Helps identify and eliminate activities that don't add value
  • Streamlines organisational processes
  • Improve service quality and reduce costs
  • Helps develop a culture of continuous improvement

When is Lean not the right choice?

One potential problem to keep in mind is that Lean can be difficult to implement in organisations with complex processes or systems. It is better suited to organisations with simple or repetitive processes where waste can more easily be identified and eliminated.

Additionally, it might not be the best strategy for organisations that are looking to achieve significant improvements in a short period. But if you’re looking to build a CI culture and get your workforce engaged, it might just be the perfect fit.

How to Implement Continuous Improvement Strategies in the Public Sector

No matter which continuous improvement strategy you choose for your team, implementing it will take skill, time and know-how. You need to build a culture that is receptive and enthusiastic about continuous improvement. The more motivated your team is the more sustainable your results will be. Luckily, we have the perfect course for you.

Implement the Right Continuous Improvement Model with our Help

Our Continuous Improvement training course will give you the tools and the confidence you need to implement CI in your team and deliver a more efficient and effective service. Read the full agenda for our Implementing Continuous Improvement training course

Matthew Kavanagh
Programme Assistant

Producer of high-quality training courses who is committed to developing excellent new training offerings for public sector professionals with in-depth agendas.