Why Continuous Improvement Should Be a Project Requirement


One of the most important things you can bring to the table on a new project is the expectation (or insistence) that the project plan includes a commitment to continuous improvement.

I was in a meeting yesterday where we were given the opportunity to characterize some of the key things we hoped to accomplish with a new project. I originally stated that I valued consistency in our process. As the meeting went on, I thought about it and had a change of heart.

Instead, I wanted continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement comes in many forms. It can be simple, and it can be incredibly complex. The key, however, is to make sure it gets done.

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection” – Mark Twain

With continuous improvement, you’ll eventually migrate to consistency, to quality, to “industry leading”, and all kinds of other great things. It’s about the process, and sometimes that process takes time. But it lasts.

Improvement is easy to overlook because in our highly skilled, highly specialized workforce, we are primed to respond to challenges. We know that when we attend meetings, our greatest opportunity to contribute meaningfully is to apply our expertise in the most effective way possible. It means we leap forward when presented with a problem. It means we take a “solve everything” approach, when perhaps, that’s not what we need.

Personally, when I’m in a meeting I know I’m probably there to bring some data analysis perspective to the table, to be a guide through our project management approach, or to talk “big picture HR”. With that experience, I have a tendency to want to jump to solutions within these areas, but that doesn’t always work.

When we all bring our unique expertise to bear on a challenge, it’s easy to get off track.

The solution then, is to focus on meeting initial project requirements with the solid commitment to come back and improve things incrementally down the line. With focus comes more effective application of everyone’s skills and experience.

And THAT’S when the good stuff happens.

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