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By Ron Estes

5 Tips to reduce improvement stagnation

Do you feel like your process improvement journey has become stagnant? You are not alone! With opening day for football just around the corner, let's take a look at five steps to get your improvement journey back on track. Sit back, kick up your feet and crack a cold one…Are you ready for some improvement?


Many of the greatest coaches of the game were also influential players on the field. You too were out there on the field at one point in your career. That's not to say that you're too old and broken to play, just that you now understand the game at a much higher level-the BIG picture. Your expertise is more valuable in the head office. Trust in the head and assistant coaches in your organization to get ready for game day.


Football is said to be a game of inches. Process improvement is much the same. Often organizations try the ol' "Hail Mary" approach, or the implementation of broad sweeping changes to processes and policy to get somewhere fast. Unlike the miracle pass on that December day, most often this approach is incomplete. Implementing measurable, consistent, small improvements will not only help to ensure that your changes actually improve operations, but will help to avoid the dreaded "scope creep".


"When you want to win a game, you teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn." Tom Landry is not known for improving manufacturing processes, but rather for developing many new and innovative formations. Implementing a process or a change to a process requires that employees be trained. It is important for all team members associated with or affected by the process be fully trained prior to the implementation of said process or change. The second half of the quote is just as important as the first. Many organizations see failure as a reason to rethink the whole process, hire experts, and terminate the "bad guy," all in an effort to assign blame. Instead, accept the defeat and learn how to prevent it in the future. Moving forward as a team will reassure everyone that you are actually committed to working as a team.


Failure to implement and improve processes is due the "top down" method. Implementing processes and improvements from your computer is sure to fail, and it is not good for morale. To implement or change a process, who better to give ideas on how to improve than the team actually doing the work? Explain the desired result, and let the team suggest ways to drive the ball across the goal line.


When a team gets the victory, oftentimes the coach hands out the game ball to the player that most influenced the outcome of the game. Find a way to encourage change and keep morale up by finding a "game ball" to hand out to the most influential team member that made your vision a reality.

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