In an earlier post, we shared six common reasons why so many continuous improvement efforts fail to be continuous.
This discontinuous improvement concept was nicely described in a recent LinkedIn post by KaiNexus, an improvement software company based in Texas, in which they compare an organization’s improvement effort to a snow cone… if you neglect it, it will melt!
People at all levels are likely to agree that continuous improvement is a good thing —“Always getting better is overrated, said nobody, ever,” the post jokes.
But no matter what you call it or which specific method predominates (i.e., Lean, Six Sigma, CPI, TQM, etc.), a high percentage of initiatives aimed at gaining greater efficiency, quality, speed, and/or customer delight have two important things in common:
- They generally produce some improvements
- Then they peter out
The key to solving this problem is effective leadership. Simply stated, while a culture of continuous improvement must involve people at all levels, it must also start at the top.
If leadership maintains a constant vigilance over alignment, an early pursuit of quick wins, a determination to identify and remove obstacles, and consistent, effective communication of the vision, strategy, successes, and next opportunities, then improvements can continue forever.
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