The virtues of continuous improvement

Staying up to date and maintaining our ways of working are as important to continuous improvement as new innovations or experimentation.

When I was very young my grandfather shared with me a lesson I have remembered to this day. He told me that if you buy something, you have to maintain it.

In a fast changing and highly competitive industry like animal feed, the pressure is always on to innovate and find new opportunities. But I think the pursuit of new and better things is just one aspect of continuous improvement, and other elements can be sometimes overlooked; like the continuous attention needed to maintain what we have built.

New opportunities

Earlier this month I announced that after nearly 9 years with GMP+ International I will be leaving and looking for a new challenge.

I’ve had the honour of leading the organisation into a strong position, with healthy finances, steady growth, and high customer satisfaction. I’m pleased to say that our successes are in large part thanks to our team, and particularly our collective focus on both of these aspects of continuous improvement; striving for progress, and remaining fit for purpose.

Fundamentally, they go hand in hand. Maintaining the tools, the relationships, and the people that support our work requires continuous attention, without which we would be less equipped to seize opportunities, adapt quickly, and may risk falling behind. In feed safety this often comes in the form of a feed safety culture, where everyone understands what outcomes, you’re trying to achieve, what their contribution is, and are supported to do it. Whereas for GMP+ International’s role as a standard setter, it involves listening to our community, truly understanding how things work in practice, and staying relevant as things change.

Embracing this kind of continuous improvement comes with a strong emphasis on experimenting, trying new things, and learning by doing. We have our own experiences with unsuccessful experiments, but we have always taken what we learned with us, and it has helped us develop new offerings and approaches that our community values.

Staying relevant

Just the latest example is our new website, which launched last week. We wanted to make our scheme and guidance more accessible, as well as improving the speed, focus, and convenience of our website. Importantly. this includes digital versions of our scheme documents; making them easier to find, search within, and use translation tools so our growing international community can get the most from them.

Continuous improvement does not mean that what you did last year, or the year before, was wrong. It also doesn’t mean that stabilising and consolidating is not a necessary part of preparing for new challenges to come. The world is always changing, and continuous improvement in all its aspects can help us stay up to date with developments and adjust in the face of new information.

Experimenting, learning, changing, improving. Thanks to this approach, we’ve been able to stay at the forefront and build on the hard work of our predecessors. I hope that in my time with GMP+ International we’ve been able to show the virtue of embracing continuous improvement in its many aspects.