3 Tips for Continuous Improvement Success

By Ron Pereira Updated on January 13th, 2011

I recently wrote about the Long and Winding Road of P90X and Continuous Improvement.

In this article I want to share some ideas for how to approach things such as workout programs and continuous improvement as they are surprisingly similar.

Let’s get started.

Tip 1: Have a Good Coach

In my opinion, the P90X program works because of the charismatic, and extremely passionate, Tony Horton.

This guy, in his mid 40s at the time the videos were shot, has more passion and energy than any person I’ve met. Ever.

Tony makes working out fun… mostly. I mean there are points where I feel like punching him in the face because I want to vomit and I hurt all over. But, for the most part, I love the guy!

And to succeed at continuous improvement I feel it’s also very important to have a good coach to push you and move you out of your comfort zone.

The coach doesn’t have to a consultant either. They could be a colleague or your boss or someone else in your life that has traveled the journey before.

In the end, all that matters is that you have access to someone that can mentor, challenge, and encourage you as you progress on this long and winding road called continuous improvement.

Tip 2: Have a Plan

Next, P90X has been carefully designed. The program follows a system of muscle confusion meaning your body never gets used to the workout. And, as such, your muscles develop much faster.

In the same way, if you don’t have a plan – or a vision – for what you want your organization to look like in 1 year, 3 years, and 10 years… get one.

In fact, I’d strongly advise you to not even begin your journey until you take the time it takes to develop a plan.

And, again, if you don’t know what “good looks like” I’d strongly encourage you to seek the help from those that do.

You likely have people working in your organization that have seen “good” and have never been asked. So ask them.

Or, if you don’t have anyone to lean on, no pun intended, you would do well to bring in good consultants to help you begin the journey… or better yet you might do well to hire a full time employee with loads of experience to help you shape the future of your continuous improvement journey before you.

Tip 3: Persevere

Finally, the last piece of advice I can offer is the easiest to say but hardest to do – persevere.

As it relates to working out… it’s so much harder to get into shape than it is to fall back out of shape. And the only way to get into shape is to work out, eat right, and get adequate rest so your body can repair itself. Easy to write… much harder to practice.

Likewise, continuous improvement – be it lean, six sigma, TOC, etc. – is not easy.

You’ll face severe resistance from C.A.V.E. people. And some, including senior leaders from time to time, will say they support the journey… until it “gets in their way.” Fight through this and don’t give up.

You’ll also make mistakes. A lot of them. In fact, if you’re not making mistakes… you’re probably not trying hard enough. The key is to learn from these mistakes and quickly get back on the saddle to ride again.

In summary, even though the journey is hard, long, and sometimes lonely… don’t ever quit. Don’t let bad attitudes and setbacks keep you from moving yourself and your organization forward.

You see, done right continuous improvement will change lives for the better. This, I guarantee.

What do you think?

So, these are three areas of focus I feel to be extremely important. Do you agree with them? Would you add anything? If so, what?

  1. Charles Jordan

    May 10, 2010 - 7:58 pm

    Good list. Number 3 is tops in my book.

  2. Jose-Luis Ruiz

    October 5, 2010 - 2:58 pm

    You are absolutly right. The order of importance depends on the circumstances, but you have to apply them in that order, certainly. There are some other factors, but those you mention have to be in your luggage, and you cannot dare leave home without them.

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