A wise man once told me in business, as in life, there’s no such thing as stagnant; you’re either on your way up or the way down. In business, how does one gauge improvement? The most obvious answer is net receipts. Is the company growing and is it profitable? That may be the most conclusive measurement; without profit all else eventually fails. But is it sustainable? Are the procedures and people in place to continue the progress?

How can a Company Continue to Improve?

It begins with honest assessment – To sustain continuous improvement an organization must look hard and deep into its culture, systems, and personnel, forming vision teams, conducting SWOT analysis, analyzing results, and implementing initiatives.

Follow through with education – Continuously exposing staff to personal improvement creates a culture of continuous improvement. Leadership training, off-site courses, and brainstorming meetings all contribute to a culture of CI.

It’s about asking questions – Continuous questioning is part of continuous improvement. How can we improve, why do we do it that way, and what are we not doing that we should? These question should be asked daily.

Drive activities – Any goal, including continuous improvement, is only a hope and wish without a plan. Base plans on objective criteria—just the facts ma’am.

  • What activities do we need to continue?
  • What activities need improvement?
  • What activities should be discontinued?
  • What activities need to be re-instated?

Developing a Culture of Continuous Improvement

As much as everyone wants things to improve most don’t want to invest the time needed to do so. For lack of an oil change the delivery truck engine expired. Why wasn’t the oil changed? They were too busy with deliveries. It happens in every organization. Teams become too busy to maintain equipment, train personnel, or question activities. History is littered with profitable companies that didn’t maintain their success. There are hundreds of examples of organizations that showed tremendous growth then faltered. Things change. New technologies replace old, the marketplace ebbs and flows, and what worked a short time ago becomes obsolete. Without a commitment to continuous improvement, it’s easy to miss the evolution. Is your organization growing, evolving, and continuously improving?