Continuous improvement as a concept is a fairly simple idea. Yet, many firms struggle to bring about change. Why?
Over the years, I have noted two common and related failings:
- The failure to take action.
- The failure to keep on taking action.
Continuous improvement is not just about learning new ideas and concepts – it is about taking action to make a difference in something. Taking action is all about bringing about change. If there is no action, there is no change!
Many firms spend a lot of time and resources learning about continuous improvement methods and tools. Yet, they fail to act and apply what they learn. Sometimes even simple behaviours and routines are hard to change – people remain set in their ways, committed to their old routines, and fail to act.
Related to this point is the second failure noted above – the failure to keep on taking action. Continuous improvement is just that – it is continuous, ongoing, never-ending. Taking action once is not enough – you must keep on taking action to address your issues and challenges and raise your firm’s functioning to ever-higher levels of performance.
The inertia imposed by a firm’s current culture is real. Unless that inertia can be overcome by persistent action, real change and improvement is not possible.