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Continuous Improvement Programs are doomed to fail…

… if there is no burning platform


Part 1:

Continuous Improvement programs can come in all shapes and sizes. But there are commonalities between the successful ones that anyone responsible for CI cannot afford to ignore.

Too often, the CI Program is seen as someone’s job. But continuous improvement can’t be delivered by one person, or even a group of people. It has to be ‘done’ by everyone. Each level in the organisation has their part to play. Successful CI programs (based on publicised stories and in my experience) are driven primarily by front-line team managers.

Note: if you have a “Continuous Improvement team” that is responsible for delivering tangible benefits, what you have is a business improvement program, not a continuous improvement program.

Continuous Improvement is not a skill-set. It’s a way of thinking, a way of behaving, a way of getting things done.

Saying it’s not a skill-set doesn’t imply that people should automatically know what do to. And there are some aspects which do benefit from training. But training should never be the first stage of a CI program, no matter how lacking your CI culture is.

Just like the title of Simon Sinek’s book, we must “Start with Why”. If we decide that front-line managers are responsible for Continuous Improvement, why should they do it (aside from blindly following instructions)? What compels them to take action? What are the consequences if they don’t take action?

All this boils down to a simple concept. If there’s no burning platform, why would anyone move from the status quo?

So go ahead and create the burning platform.


Continued in Part 2