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The Business sector needs a change of lifestyle - starting from within

CBI – Continuous Business Improvement – is a powerful tool to be used by companies set to build a culture allowing for continuous improvement.

The European business sector as a whole is in need of a change in lifestyle. A change that will create a common obligation to aim for improvement and change as a constant approach.

These are the words of Niels Gørup Christiansen, founder and owner of the Danish consultancy firm New Future Formula. Niels Gørup Christiansen has dedicated years of his career to turning improved business routines into a lifestyle for companies – and as he puts it, expectations alone cannot do the trick:

– No, this is something we need to demand from each other. Management must have the courage to demand that employees are willing to propose minor and major improvements of the daily routines on a regular basis, and conversely employees must be able to demand that management listens and reacts to their ideas.

Niels Gørup Christiansen calls this the CBI principle – Continuous Business Improvement – which is also the title of his new book. Click here to order!

But why should the European business sector look towards CBI? The answer is simple: the bottom line. – By now we have assisted more than 80 companies incorporate the CBI principles in their daily operations. This has given these companies significant and easy improvements of their work routines and yielded annual improvements of the bottom line of between four and fifteen per cent. In parallel with this the companies raised employee satisfaction because the employees could see for themselves that their hard work and ideas paid off.

The target is of course that the cultural change becomes an engrained component of the company's identity and self-esteem, Niels Gørup Christiansen says.

And he continues with an example:

– Imagine a company with 20 employees and annual sales totalling 4 million euro. The potential improvement for a company such as this will typically amount to 800 000 euro, and usually we quickly identify about ten per cent of this potential. Let alone the first year this will mean a 80 000 euro improvement to be reflected in the bottom line, the consultant calculates.

According to Niels Gørup Christiansen the most healthy companies are characterised by employees who take their working lives in their own hands by constantly looking to think along new lines.

– Modest, even humble, improvements also count. The point is that they must come in a continuous flow. This creates the basis for far larger jumps and innovation at a later stage – and we must promise each other to identify improvements. Something at least the Danes are not very good at, he states before continuing:

– The typical Danish manager a is pleasant and easy-going person who listens to the proposals put forward by his/her employees but who is really lousy at leaving it to them and entrusting them with the responsibility to actually realise the ideas – and equally typical he will not get around to doing it himself. Quite simply the workplace is characterised by too much consensus and too little edge, Niels Gørup Christiansen states.

In his opinion European companies and their employees should – using CBI as their tool – get used to navigating in a world characterised by increasing change and uncertainty. One way of resolving this is to entrust employees with more responsibility for their own working lives. Because CBI works from the bottom up.

– The labour market is based on formal predictability where we are more focused on closing back doors from fear of letting in the unknown rather than opening new doors for ourselves. We need to share the responsibility for the workplace with our employees, he points out.

This is another reason why he compares CBI with a change in lifestyle.

– You might compare it to quitting smoking or exercising more. Only this is a collective effort; the organisation as a whole has to tune into thinking along new lines – and this might take a while. In return, however, you will be rewarded in cash, Niels Gørup Christiansen argues.

You are welcome to direct any queries to Niels Gørup Christiansen at +45 2440 5770 or by e-mail to ngc@nff.dk.

Niels Gørup Christiansen, 49 years, among his previous work experiences are management positions as manager and director with Grundfos and Johnson Controls. Mr Christiansen has been leading the way for hundreds of improvement projects, small and large alike. He founded in 2007 the New Future Formula consultancy firm based in Denmark. The company assists both small businesses and large corporations improve and grow based on the CBI formula – Continuous Business Improvement.

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