OpX Insights

Continuous Improvement

written By Mike Leigh

Early in my career of helping organizations improve their operations, I learned that all organizations are either “green and growing, or ripe and rotting”.  There is no in between.  In today’s competitive environment, an organization must continuously strive to improve, or risk falling behind the competition.

Almost every organization will take action to improve performance when it is convenient or if their operations are struggling.  But are you willing to implement change even when it’s not?

Twice in his career when he was dominating the competition, Tiger Woods completely revamped his golf swing.  Most people would have never changed what was working, but by doing so Tiger remained the #1 golfer in the world in 11 of 12 straight years.  He was never content with his performance, and he always strived for improvement.

I assume if you are reading this article, you probably want to improve your operations.  If so, pursue these two core principles of continuous improvement.

First, embrace innovation and change.  Eliminate apathy in your organization.  Create a culture where it is ok to try and fail, but it’s not ok to not try.  Solicit ideas from your team, and reward their efforts.  And most importantly, lead the effort from the front lines.  Join your team in their improvement efforts.  Change won’t happen by edict from your office.

Second, you must dedicate time, money and talent to your improvement efforts.  Look at your calendar.  How much time have you scheduled to improve processes or develop your people?  Look at your budget.  How much money have you set aside for improvement initiatives?  Look at your team.  Who do you have working on your continuous improvement goals?

One company I work with provides a free international trip annually to one employee who has submitted at least one improvement idea in the past year.  What are you going to do to keep your business green and growing?