Continuous Improvement — Know It When You See It!

Management fads come and go.  I have been around long enough to remember them – from TQM to Six Sigma.  I have even been part of a “Learning Organization” complete with a Chief Learning Officer.

The trap, of course, is assuming that these silver bullet fads will deliver benefit with little stress or effort.  Unfortunately, unless they are integrated into our Six Steps, they usually fail.  They eventually fade away creating cynicism about “flavor of the month” programs.

One such fad is Continuous Improvement.  Many of my clients have been subjected to such programs.  Proponents suggest that it is the beginning of the change process.  In fact, students of our Six Step Process understand that it is the 6th and final step.

Experience indicates that Continuous Improvement begins to emerge only as the organization demonstrates that it has learned how to become excellent.

Eventually, organizations committed to excellence have mastered the first Five Steps; they have embraced the core values of integrity, teamwork, respect and responsibility and understand the decision making process and the power of participative decision making.  The planning and execution has begun to achieve positive results.    The organization has learned by practice and hard work.

As a result, while the organization is a long way from maximizing its value, the turning point has been achieved, or as Collins in Good to Great puts it – the flywheel has finally begun to fly.

That is also when I am usually out of a job.  By embracing the Six Step Process, organizations learn how to create excellence to the point that it can become self sustaining.  Now, it is just a matter of time until they achieve their value maximization objective.  It is inevitable.

There is, frankly, little left for me to offer – and for that, I could not be more pleased.

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