Here's how Strafe use continuous improvement and how you can too

Continuous Improvement – here’s how Strafe use the kaizen method [5 ways you can too]

From the StudioStudio
Ross moves around post-its on a whiteoard

Running a digital agency is fast-paced. As a business owner, you have to be flexible and willing to adapt to your client needs and wants on a daily basis. To tackle these challenges, at Strafe Creative we have adopted Continuous Improvement/Kaizen as a strategy for growth and improvement.

We’re passionate about ensuring that you have the best possible experience as a Strafe Creative client. Whether that’s through our clearly defined processes, strong communication skills or the great conversion results we guarantee. All of these approaches to work have come to life over the last few years by adopting a kaizen/continuous improvement approach. 

Inspired by the James Clear book, “Atomic Habits”, and one particular chapter that looked at marginal gains and the British cycling team. Over the years, by making very small improvements to their routines, habits and approach they went on to make history. These small improvements aggregated into a huge difference.

During the ten-year span from 2007 to 2017, British cyclists won 178 world championships and 66 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and captured 5 Tour de France victories in what is widely regarded as the most successful run in cycling history – Atomic Habits, James Clear

Another way to consider continuous improvement is to think of a plane making a journey from London to New York. The pilot takes off, in doing so they’re constantly making changes to their angle, speed and cruising height. Throughout that journey, they are adapting to the weather conditions, where they are on the route and the time of day or night. It’s a state of continuous improvement and change. The vision is to reach New York and the pilot makes all those small changes to get the passengers there safely. 

Here’s a continuous improvement example that’s a bit closer to home. In an earlier blog I talked about the Welcome Dashboard, a straightforward, easy to use WordPress dashboard that helps clients manage their new site. Designing and implementing this dashboard was a process of continuous improvement. 

One key issue we faced was during client maintenance updates. After downloading a version of the site to update offline (so the website could stay live), we often found clients would add or change the content in the meantime. This meant when we uploaded our updates, there were missing parts. To solve this, we started issuing clear communications to our clients that we were planning scheduled maintenance and that a ‘content freeze’ was in place for 24 hours. This would mean none of the clients would make amends to the site until after we had updated it. 

Whilst this went well for a while, we then ran into another issue. Sometimes there were more people with website access than we had anticipated. So whilst we had sent reminder emails, not everyone with back-end access was receiving them. Our next round of continuous improvement for this project led to a pop-up content freeze notification, built into the new Welcome Dashboard. 

The result? Anyone who logged in during a scheduled maintenance period would be advised not to make any updates. Over time we ended up with a successful result however it was a journey of small, incremental changes that got us there. 

Here are five ways we use continuous improvement at Strafe. These are examples that you can incorporate into your business or a working day too: 

    1. Set clear goals – for the year or quarter. Give yourself a vision, where do you want to be in the future? Throughout that time period, you can make small changes that help you get to that place over time, without it feeling overwhelming. Sense check against these goals on a regular basis to ensure the improvements made are helping you achieve your vision.
    2. Note down “snags” or “errors” – when things go wrong, noting the errors means you have clear documentation that you can address. We have a dedicated slack channel for this to note down all key pieces of information. 
    3. Work together to find solutions – without pointing fingers as to who is to blame, address your snag list on a team call and source new ideas or approaches as a group to avoid the same issues happening again in the future. 
    4. Update your processes – by having a set of clear processes you can offer a consistent experience for your clients. Look to improve these regularly and ensure this is clearly updated and communicated to the whole team. Our business is very process-driven, so for us, at Strafe it’s really important we all know these updates.
    5. Put your client at the heart of your ideas – how can you ensure you’re delivering the best results for your clients. By understanding their needs and issues, you can ensure that your processes and methodologies are aligned. It’s this focus that has seen us grow the business and offer USPs like the Welcome Dashboard

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