BLOG: Continuous Improvements’ Role in Innovation

LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards 2020

In support of Leicester Innovation Week – and because Morningside Pharmaceuticals are once again proud headline sponsors of the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards  – Dr Nik Kotecha OBE looks at how putting Continuous Improvement at the heart of a business’ Innovation Strategy can deliver positive business benefits. 

Getting a business’ Innovation Strategy right can be a juggling act.

If you focus too much on turning creative ideas into reality, it can come at the detriment of the business’ day-to-day operations.

Likewise, too little focus on innovation may cause problems further down the line, as competitors catch up and begin to take market share.

The solution to this is to ensure a balanced approach is built into your plans, which is where Continuous Improvement can play an important role.

At first glance, this may seem like an unusual partnership as continuous improvement and innovation are two different philosophies.

Continuous improvement is about making a commitment to looking at ways that an organisation can continually get better. Whereas innovation is the process of turning new ideas and concepts into business benefits, such as increased productivity.

So how do these two different approaches harmonise to deliver the best of both worlds?

For my business, Morningside Pharmaceuticals, continuous improvement is a big part of innovation. For example, as we built our Quality Management System (QMS), which ensures the absolute quality of the medicines we manufacture, we signed up to a number of international standards.

This helped build structures because the standards involve identifying weaknesses and developing strategies to embed improvements. We are then inspected regularly to measure that we meet the different credentials. As a business, we like to be challenged, and have found that taking guidance from external experts through audits and inspections has supported this process.

Once you have embedded a culture of continuous improvement into business systems it will then deliver many more opportunities for innovation to take place.

For Morningside, this has led to all departments constantly reflecting on, and analysing quarter to quarter data, to look for trends. They are always learning from this data, which enables them to fine tune our activities and generate new ideas and innovations to deliver further improvements and efficiencies. These innovations then streamline our approach to getting our products into the marketplace, which makes the business more successful.

My advice would be to see both innovation and continuous Improvement as integral parts of your Innovation Strategy. They share clear synergies, which if balanced correctly will create the necessary structures to free up time and resource to embed an innovative corporate culture.

By building a culture of continuous improvement, businesses can achieve real gains in efficiency and productivity that will then lead to reduced wastage, improved quality and increased customer satisfaction.

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