Tag Archives: challenges to CI


Continuing the theme of keeping improvement projects on track, CI leaders should be very careful to avoid falling prey to “theory blindness.”

Theory-blindness is an “expensive” pitfall that extracts a huge economic toll in organizations of all types and sizes. In some cases it leads companies to invest in expensive solutions that completely miss the real cause. In other instances, organizations will live with costly problems for years because of a shared but erroneous theory about the cause of the problem.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, (the only non-economist to win the Nobel Prize in Economics) describes the phenomenon in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.

The human brain, he illustrates by describing decades of research, is wired to apply a number of biases, theory-blindness being one of them. Understanding the biases gives us the tools to overcome them.

The most powerful mental bias underlying a great deal of the flawed decision making is what he calls: WYSIATI (which is a acronym for “what-you-see-is-all-there-is”). It occurs because we are inordinately influenced by what we see, and greatly undervalue information we do not have. As a result, paradoxically, the less we know, the more sure we are of our conclusions.

Based on research and many years of experience, we’ve determined the best way to avoid theory blindness is to rigorously adhere to an improvement process; one that includes a comprehensive method of identifying and quantifying root causes and the real waste.

A Big Challenge to Improvement: Lack of Buy-in X 2

Not long ago our Partners In Improvement forum met to discuss the common causes of failure in Continuous Improvement efforts .

It was noted that when organizations embark on a path of Continuous Improvement, the effort is abandoned within a year or two in a high-percentage of cases.

The reason? No results…

The Partners discussed what can cause improvement projects to fail to achieve their potential. While several challenges were identified, lack of buy-in from both managers and participants was identified as one of the most common reasons improvement efforts get derailed.

Management support is required to free-up the resources to work on improvement, without which meetings tend to get pushed out and progress slows. The slower the effort moves, the more likely it
becomes that priorities will change, or that new opportunities or problems will arise, thus decreasing available resources further.

When projects fail to produce good results, buy-in can deteriorate rapidly at all levels within an organization as well. As people’s interest and confidence levels wane, projects can become “unpopular” or worse, and subsequent efforts become less and less likely to succeed.

In our next post we will share some of remedies our Partners identified for maintaining higher-levels of buy-in for Continuous Improvement throughout an organization.