I see two problems with continuous improvement.
First, if you’re always looking to be better there is a real risk you end up being perpetually dissatisfied or disappointed. Knowing you’ll never reach perfection means your improvement journey just goes on and on and on.
Second, because continuous improvement is mostly in the small stuff it’s often overlooked, undervalued and rarely embedded in business culture.
Bash those two together and not only does it get a bit depressing given some of the amazing results from CI but it’s just not the right mixture to get anyone really motivated!
So, let me suggest you have a look at this brilliant video first to get in the right frame of mind:
The quick summary is that getting happy first results in greater performance. Positivity in the present increases our intelligence, creativity and energy, it improves our productivity and makes us more resilient.
As you’ll have seen, some of the easy ways to achieve positivity in the present include recognising three new/good things each day, sending letters or emails of thanks, looking for the good in people and generating a sense of appreciation. Nothing difficult or costly.
So, let’s imagine a continuous improvement environment that is positive, appreciated and self-supported.
Let’s imagine the greater quality of ideas generation, let’s picture the improved analysis and the more effective outputs.
Let’s imagine a workforce of positive, happy people engaged in continuous improvement who both appreciate and are appreciated for now, for the immediacy of acts of kindness and improvement they achieve and the brilliantly motivational environment that’s within our grasp.
Does it sound a bit happy-clappy and unrealistic? I say this is entirely within our gift.
Our role as CI leaders is as much about creating the environment as it is about educating, coaching, measuring, etc. Get people feeling the environment is right, make people feel good about improvement (however small the improvement might be) and great things can happen – honestly they can.
Let’s stop imagining and get on with it!