Many people believe that Continuous Improvement is a culture. It certainly is in the eyes of the Japanese and many others, but is continuous improvement really a culture or something else? In Part III of this series, we talked about focusing Continuous Improvement activities on strategy. How better to get visibility of the efforts being expended in your Continuous Improvement program than to have it move the strategic needle forward by making the dominant force in strategy execution.
If you think about it, the most successful companies are those that consistently implement their strategy. Nothing more and nothing less: It is part of their culture. The purest definition of culture is:
“the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterize an institution or organization”
Part IV of this series is about utilizing continuous improvement to create a culture of strategic execution. The importance of this approach is that for most people, strategy is the domain of the C-Suite, while continuous improvement tends to be focused on the lower levels of the organization. It is possible for everyone in the organization to be skilled at the various Continuous Improvement tools, whether it be 5S, Value Stream Mapping, PDCA, etc. No college degree required! By utilizing these skills on projects that are strategy related, it is possible to create an inextricable link to strategy through all levels of the organization.
To create a culture of strategic execution, the leadership of the company MUST do the following:
- Create a well thought through strategy and clearly articulate it
- Use the company’s strategy as the basis for justifying everything that is done in the company: Every investment, every program and every activity. Use strategy as the politicly correct way to say NO!
- Tie everyone’s compensation to delivering to the strategic objectives
- Apply continuous improvement activities to strategic initiatives
Why are these elements must do’s? Strategy execution is what defines a company and delivers the end results. Implementing a continuous improvement program is expensive and it should not be the flavor of the month. Continuous improvement programs consume a lot of valuable resources for training, project work and cost. So, if these expenditures of capital and resources don’t move the strategic needle forward, then why bother.
I have met too many leadership teams who are frustrated with their continuous improvement programs and want to stop the expenditures, because they haven’t seen results; Noticeable results. These same leadership teams tend to be frustrated with their strategy execution processes.
Marrying strategic execution with Continuous Improvement is the perfect combination of programs that everyone can participate in. Leaders see the strategic needle moving forward and employees get the opportunity to participate in the company’s strategic success. Everyone participates (something really important for millennials), sees results and want to do it over and over. Now that is what we call a culture of strategic execution.
Check out our latest article on Continuous Improvement:
- Series on the Five Things You Need to do to Drive Continuous Improvement
- Utilizing Continuous Improvement Tools at the Business Level
- Creating the Business Case for a Continuous Improvement Program Workshop
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