People often make “New Year’s resolutions” with good intentions, but then fail to follow-through.
Similarly, and as we’ve discussed in previous posts, many well-intentioned organizations find it difficult to execute and sustain their Continuous Improvement or strategic plans… these challenges have been highlighted in many publications, ranging from the well-regarded book “Four Disciplines of Execution” by Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey, to our “Discontinuous Improvement” newsletter.
To achieve and sustain a culture of Continuous Improvement, execution is the key. Even when people excel at identifying major opportunities for improvement, if they don’t execute, they don’t make gains. In our work with hundreds of organizations, we have observed that the most successful organizations are outstanding at execution. Here are a few of the common threads among those organizations:
- Senior leaders become actively involved
- They make prudent use of prioritization tools
- Consistent structure and reporting
- Engaged workforce
- They set expectations and consequences — both positive and negative
- They identify clear project plans for delivering results, including measures and milestones
- Consistent and timely monitoring of progress
- Recognition of team members’ accomplishment
- Corrective action models (not punitive) when results are sub-par
- Strategic actions to lock in the gains
As we’ve often observed, the hard part of Continuous Improvement isn’t making improvements, but rather it’s making the effort continuous.