Over the past few weeks, while networking and connecting with people through #laurens100lunches, I’ve had a few people ask me what does a Continuous Improvement (CI) Coach and Consultant do. I found that I was giving the same answer and thought I would write about it. There are so many articles about what consultants and coaches do but I didn’t find much content on precisely what I do.
My intent with this article is to provide a small insight into how I help my clients While there are many of us in this field, I’m sharing with you what I do, and how I approach things. There can be times where coaching and consulting might be a little blurred, but I hope to explain the different approaches I do with my clients.
What is a CI Coach and Consultant?
My elevator speech is:
I guide business owners and leaders on how to rapidly and efficiently get from point A to point B resulting in real progress and empowerment.
While networking, I do not like to use the terms business processes, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, or Six Sigma when meeting new people. CI is so much more than that. It is a toolbox of tools that help people and businesses succeed through the use of mindset, culture, and methodologies. Instead of improving business processes, CI is about changing and growing. CI encompasses the business leaders or owners, people in the business, customers or clients, culture, and processes. Without all these elements, you can not have a successful business.
I partner with them elevate their business, develop a CI Plan, and guide them along the CI path.
What is the difference between CI consulting and coaching?
The most significant difference in my business between consulting and coaching is the approach and how I guide my clients forward.
With coaching, I’m coaching my clients through CI and their problems. I work with my clients to help them elevate their business. We partner together to develop their CI plan. I listen, provide guidance where needed, and then hold them accountable. We develop a CI Plan that is suitable for them and their business. Then, my coaching clients apply what they learn into their business. With coaching, it is a 6-12-month program, but you do start to see small improvements and successes within the first month.
With consulting, I’m solving my client’s problems with CI. I partner with the business owners and leaders to analyze their business and then develop their CI plan. Once the CI Plan is developed, I’m working alongside the leaders or owners with their people. During this time, I provide guidance, leadership, and education. This allows the owner and leaders to not working in their businesses but on the business. Typically, this approach means faster results!
The majority of my coaching clients are small to medium businesses. The majority of my consulting clients are medium-sized businesses. When I meet with prospective clients, we work together to determine the best way forward. I like to make sure that the route we take is best for my clients.
How do I know if I need a CI consultant or coach?
The other question I encounter is, “How do I know if I need CI or if I know someone that needs help?” It’s not always easy for a business leader or owner to identify if they need help. Using CI is not always about helping a failing process, product, or business. CI is so much more than that.
So how do you know if you or someone might need CI?
These are some of the things I listen for when speaking with people:
- With current changes and uncertainty in today’s environment, I’m not sure what I need to do next.
- We need to implement need safety procedures, but this is disrupting our employees and customers. They are unhappy.
- The way things worked in an office environment is not working for remote work.
- My business is growing so fast that I can’t keep up.
- My employees and I are always putting out fires. It feels like we are not able to get work done.
- I want to take my business to the next level, but I’m unsure how to get there.
- I know what I’m doing today will not work tomorrow because I want to grow.
- Our customers are starting to complain. We have tried to fixed things, but we are unsure of what is wrong.
- My employees are working too hard. They are putting in overtime, and we can not find ways to make things better. My employees are spending too much time at work, and they are getting burnt out. They are not able to spend time with their families.
- We have tried to implement new technology, but nothing is working the way we want.
- Our employees do not want to use the new technology.
- Employees are doing things the old way instead of using the technology.
- The new technology broke everything. The processes are not working, and we are not sure how to move forward.
- We can not keep up with customer demands or market changes
- We are losing customers to our competitors
- The quality of our product or service is lacking
- We are spending too much, and we need to cut costs. We thought about cutting employee hours or reducing headcount. But this will affect the quality of our services/products. We are unsure of what to do.
CI can help with all of this, regardless of where you are in your business.
What are the benefits of using a CI consultant or coach?
Benefits can be broken up into hard benefits and soft benefits.
Hard benefits are:
- Increased Revenue
- Reduced costs
- Reduce the need for capital expenditure
- Reduce the need to hire additional employees
- Reduce overtime hours
- Improving cash flow
- Faster quote to cash
Soft benefits are:
- Improved culture and employee morale
- Improved effectiveness
- Customer focus – Looking at what the customer wants
- Leading by fact and alignment
- Eliminates guessing
- Measurements or KPIs that are customer focus and helps to define success.
As things changing faster than we expected, I believe that we need to continue to find new ways to do things. These changes we are encountering can be positive. CI can help take away some of the uncertainty and provide you with the structure and creativity that is needed to navigate anything that comes your way.
What are your thoughts?
Have you experience any of these issues, or are there other issues?
Do you think Continuous Improvement can help you?
What other benefits can you think about?