It doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to conclude that a culture of continuous improvement is good for business. Who says, “Improvement culture? No thanks. I’ll pass.” No one, of course, yet very few companies have truly embraced a culture of improvement. They may claim it, but it isn’t really ingrained. When this is the case, we often find that companies have failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that every employee embraces the ideals behind improvement, takes accountability, and makes improvements. Here are a few common missteps.
No Room for Improvement
Acting on opportunities for improvement takes time. Each improvement typically involves planning, execution, documentation, and measurement phases. Some leaders are unable to come to terms with the fact that improvement work will take time from the employee’s other responsibilities. When this is the case, people will engage in improvement less frequently or only begrudgingly. If improvement is really important to your company and culture, time must be carved out for this work.
Not Enough Structure
It may seem strange to hear that technology can support culture, but it absolutely can. If improvement is a central business process, then, in the same way you support sales with a CRM or supply chain management with an ERP, improvement should be supported by a software application designed for the job. This translates to culture by signaling the importance of improvement efforts. It also provides a common language and a way for people to collaborate on improvement activities and events. Cohesiveness is the key to culture and a tool that manages improvement opportunities, activities and history can help you achieve it. Technology changes behavior by supporting the crucial methodology and leadership behaviors.
Only Improving from the Top
Executive management teams often have ideas about what they think needs to improve. Improvement projects that are initiated in the C-suite and assigned down, are fine, but they are not the most effective way to achieve an improvement culture. Did you know that 80% of your organization's improvement potential is in your front line employees? Harnessing that full potential is best done by inviting, and executing on, their ideas every day. This isn’t just a good way to get everyone thinking about improvement, it is also a way to identify and resolve problems that are much easier seen and understood by the people who are closest to them. Learn more about the need to engage staff in improvement here.
Your organization is developing a culture every day, whether you're steering it with intent or not. An improvement culture doesn’t develop by accident. By creating the space, providing the tools, and inviting engagement, organizations can provide an environment in which a culture of improvement can thrive.
Check out this upcoming webinar to learn about how to increase buy-in for improvement at every level of your organization: