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Improve or Transform?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Every organization I have been associated with had some sort of Continuous Improvement (CI) focus. The sentiment and intent is beyond reproach. Who can argue with the idea of getting better on a go-forward basis?


As you consider your own CI efforts, here are some questions against which you might gauge the overall efficacy of your program.

- Are your efforts grounded in achievement of a specific goal?

- Do you have specific measures against which you can monitor and evaluate the impact of your improvements?


From my experience, these are essential to having any chance at driving real and lasting impact. That said, however, having check marks here isn't cause for celebration just yet.

- Is Continuous Improvement enough (or is it just a placebo)?

- Are your efforts focused and optimized on what most matters?

- Do your people understand and embrace the reasons and need for change? Have they internalized the value that will be created? Are they equipped to execute against the changes at a consistently high level? Can these changes be monitored and managed to?


My fundamental concern with Continuous Improvement efforts for most organizations is this; there is an inherent supposition that the focus of the improvement -- the way things are done today -- is optimal. Often times, I have seen an inordinate amount of time (and money) invested simply to accelerate the execution of a flawed use case, getting a sub-par result faster and cheaper.


Instead, I urge you to step back. Reestablish your North Star. Shine a light on what matters most. Focus your scarce resources on making changes here. Resist the urge to be lulled by the placebo effect of "improving". Aim, instead, to be great where it matters and to be content with being simply good enough where it doesn't.


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