What a bizarre thing to suggest, right? Everybody knows that you cannot get somebody else to do your golf swing. Anyone who has ever set a goal and achieved it will testify that you need to take responsibility for achieving the goal and then put in the effort. Standard stuff, nothing new there. So, if you want to improve your golf and your swing is wrong, you practice more, hire a coach perhaps, anything you think will help you improve. Handing your swing to somebody else to improve for you is just ludicrous.
Continuous Improvement or Continuous Interference?
You cannot outsource your continuous improvement either.
Now this may be a more controversial statement and opinions will differ because in business this happens all the time.
We have Continuous Improvement departments and Continuous Improvement managers.
I have lost count of the number of frustrated CI managers who have complained to me that they cannot get anywhere, that every initiative they come up with is met with a wall of resistance or at best lip service.
“They just see me as interfering with their department” is a typical comment – and quite right too. Because a CI manager’s job is to interfere everywhere to make sure continuous improvements happen. And even worse, if you have a CI department any number of people not related to the individual departments and processes will stick their noses in places where they are deemed not to belong.
Continuous improvement should
be continuous interference as the whole principle behind the concept is to not accept the status quo and to always strive for positive changes. Where things go wrong is when an outsider (read CI manager/dept.) is put in charge of improvement. Then it becomes an activity that is perceived negatively and with suspicion by protective process owners and department chiefs.
This is exactly why the method of continuous improvement was never meant to be somebody’s domain or department.
Continuous improvement is everybody’s responsibility. Everybody must be empowered to identify areas for improvement, suggest methods of improvement, participate in implementing improvements, and take part in monitoring the effects of the changes and – of course – celebrate their achievements.
As usual, it is more about the attitude and culture than the tool itself. When an organisation
has a continuous improvement culture linked to organisational
goals and when managers are measured on continuous improvement in their departments, everybody will be responsible and the relevant individuals will be accountable for the constant improvement of the business.
“We’ve done continuous improvement and all that”
This is a recent real life quote from a senior director totally missing the point of the word “continuous” and the concept itself. “We did 5S three years ago” is another classic from our quote library”. Visiting the factory, it was clear that they also stopped three years ago.
Once you go down the road of Lean you have committed to a never ending
journey. It makes no difference whether you are in manufacturing, warehousing, service delivery, or any other type of business. This is not about winning a badge or “getting the t-shirt” – it is about being competitive and preferably beating the competition. If you want your golf swing to improve and become the envy of your club, you have to keep at it and keep at it….
Radical change and a new way of life
If you are not already in an established and well-functioning CI culture, you need to define and clearly communicate the business objectives and goals that the CI culture should underpin. And to make a real impact you have to go big bang, or radical change, first. In that way
you will make the significant leap and shake-up from which you continuously improve involving everybody in the organisation
and resisting the temptation to outsource the responsibility to one person or department.
Fig. 1: Continuous improvement alone will not make you overtake the competition
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