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Continuous improvement

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- Posted: December 10, 2019

"Improve.” It’s central to the continuous improvement model. There are several areas of a snow and ice management operation where you can use the Sustainable Winter Management (SWiM) model to drive improvement. The primary SWiM guidelines to include as a standard set of policies for improving your snow and ice management operation include:

Change

Developing a company culture that accepts change and continuous improvement is potentially the most challenging for any organization. Change is so important because as an industry, our clients are accustomed to a business-as-usual approach to managing snow and ice conditions. Innovation, optimization, and increasing efficiencies and profits are all enabled by change and a systemic cultural acceptance to change. It only takes one person in an organization to sabotage change for the sake of improving. 

How do we change? First, we need to ask the question: What would be worth changing for the positive? Profits? Quality and the level of service (LOS) for your clients? Morale? Differentiating yourself from the competition? Work-life balance? The amount of sleep you and your team are getting or lacking? If these questions resonate with you and your team, congratulations — you understand why change and continuous improvement is critically important to sustain any business or operation. 

Benchmarking

Set and follow targets for production, material/inventory outputs (including salt use) and overall costs. These are things you can benchmark against your own company’s performance and that of the industry’s best practices standards. 

Communication

This is an area where we all can improve. To do so, we need to determine what needs improved. Are we communicating to the proper decision makers or do we need to improve our levels of relationships? When and how often to communicate? Do our clients/constituents see us as approachable? Are we available to those with whom we should be communicating? What message needs communicating? How can we best deliver our message using tools, technology, cadence and reliability?

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