When did “continuous improvement” become dirty words?
A decade ago when I first saw the term “continuous improvement” on a resume I was reviewing, I found my world, my passion and my purpose. I’m a helper at heart. I want to help people and organizations be their best selves. I don’t know if it was nature or nurture, but I am wired to always be on the lookout for possibilities, risks and where we can do better. Those special words, “continuous improvement,” leapt off the page and drew me down a path I’ve loved ever since.
Risk lovers, unite!
But not everyone loves looking for risks and opportunities. Some people see it as a negative or never being satisfied. Some people think that the status quo just might be good enough. Others figure things are working fine as they are.
All of this makes me wonder if it’s actually the core values of continuous improvement that are misunderstood—staying competitive, innovative and optimizing your resources. Who wouldn’t want to excel and optimize their performance? Who wouldn’t want to find the fastest and best way to work without sacrificing quality? Are people really fine with not doing those things?
A classic recipe for success
High-performing sports teams are a great metaphor for continuous improvement: they practice, analyze and review; they coach and adjust; they repeat the drill; they perfect it and then move on to their next drill. But they are always ready to revisit a play and consider new ways to get even better. High-performing sports teams are continuous learners, open to feedback and new ways of perfecting their game.
When a business is faced with a new competitor, you need to reevaluate your plays—maybe they don’t make sense anymore, maybe you need to retrain your team, leverage someone else, play differently, train differently, play harder. But you should always aim to improve.
If you’re still on the fence and kind of happy with the status quo, take a moment to really consider the possibilities you may be missing out on. “Continuous improvement” may just become a couple of your favorite words!