The pace of change is accelerating and business leaders who are responsible for improvements need keep up with the pace. While plan-do-check-act methodology has been around for long, the time it took was way longer.
For organizational improvements (and the personal ones), what do we need today? What would business expect from improvement initiatives? A few things I think:
We need shorter iterations. We still need plan-do-check-act but the iterations are expected to be shorter. Pick an improvement area, create a plan, execute improvement, check the results and re-align the actions. The idea is to have a good enough plan, short execution cycle that enables you to learn and adapt faster. This is equally true for improvement we seek in our personal and professional lives.
We need more retrospectives. Forums where we can take a stock of how your initiative is progressing and what can be tuned. Retrospectives are also a great way to collaborate.
We need right areas to improve. Almost anything can be improved but the critical question is: Does it have a real impact? The famous 80:20 rule applies to process improvement initiative as well. 80% of improvement happens by focusing on continuous identification of 20% improvement areas. In my book #QUALITYtweet, I wrote:
We need results to be visible. We need visible improvements in critical business functions. Bottom line impact of improvement initiative needs as much focus as its impact on organizational culture.
We need collaboration. Improvements never happen in an isolated corner office. It happens when you collaborate with your team members, customers, business development folks and middle managers.
#QUALITYtweet The first step of your process improvement journey is to know what really needs improvement
Bottom line: In an agile business environment where change is not only constant but rapid, we need agility in how we improve. We need to fail fast, learn fast and adapt quickly.
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