How do I Improve without defining “improvement”?

The answers could be varied but a few common ones are:

  • The improvement is seen as tactical and not strategic.
  • The leadership are frightened of being embarrassed – a good programme will highlight faults and wastes in the business which may reflect badly on them.
  • They’re too busy doing other things is improvement really that important?
  • They pay people to do it so that they don’t have to if I have experts in marketing, sales, legal, finance, etc. then I can hire experts in improvement too.

The list can go on but the question we should ask when we get these responses is – Why do they think that? When I hear these responses I recognise that there is usually an important element missing – the definition of improvement.

In this situation I often coach this definition to be:

Creating the best performing organisation that I can and driving a double-digit improvement year on year.

Where the double digits are to be found is down to the type of business that you have and where you can gain most. This can be hugely challenging but if you are interested in really leading your organisation then this type of thinking needs to be part of it. Being a leader means working out which methods and structure will help you to achieve those goals and then taking the lead in making them happen just hiring a person and delegating responsibility does not do it!

To achieve double digit improvement, not just in one year but in consecutive years, requires active involvement in the improvement programme. It needs to become part of the leadership standards in your organisation. To do so requires structure, discipline and development of the staff and leadership.