So what if it is a flavour of the month?

Change, Business Cycles, and Ice Cream.

Ruth and I were visiting with clients yesterday who are working on developing a culture of continuous process improvement in their organization. This high tech organization is busy, and being in the technology and entertainment industry puts them at the whim of their competitors and Hollywood.

With all these ongoing market pressures and demands, how do you make time to do continuous improvement projects? Who has time to devote to improving processes when you are spending all your time actually running those processes?

Many of the employees at the organization would ask us, “How are you going to make sure this isn’t the flavour of the month?”. We would start our spiel about how this is important to the organization, and management is in full support, there is budget allocated to the program, and so on and so forth. But really, what could we do to make sure this initiative was carrying on long after we’d moved on to our next client?

So what if it is flavour of the month? It’s Chocolate, and it’s good.

It got us thinking that every business goes through cycles of change – every 5-7 years in fact.. And while the initiative we are supporting is there now, that doesn’t mean it will be there in 5 years.

Does that mean we’re switching to Vanilla?

Does that mean that your continuous improvement culture shift is a bust? Not necessarily. It does mean that over time, a program may twist, pull, stretch (just like TAFFY) and morph into another entity altogether. But that doesn’t mean it is a failure.

Have you sensed lack of commitment from your team about an initiative? Are they in a bit of denial thinking this isn’t going to happen? If so, read on…

3 Tips to Build Commitment to your Flavour of the Month….

  1. Link your initiative to a broader organizational objective. Instead of your continuous process improvement initiative standing on its own,can you link the messaging of continuous improvement to a new technology, a new regulatory policy, or company standards. Think of Paul O’Neill the former CEO of Alcoa. Although Alcoa already outperformed most U.S. manufacturers on safety, O’Neill believed that to be a world-class company, it first had to become the safest. (click for more info)
  2. Link your initiative to other processess that are wholly ingrained in your culture. (Click to Tweet) Link your continuous improvement program to the strategic planning functions of your organization. Rather than process improvement initiatives being outside of your operational and strategic short and long term planning, make them a core part of that planning process
  3. Use my SQUISH method for change (Communicate, Role Model, Feedback). (Google it I dare you.) Communicate often about your initiative and its linkages to organizational objectives and long term strategy. Role model the behaviour you want to see. If you want Continuous Improvement Projects done – follow up on status, and don’t push off because the next big ice cream flavour is running through the organization. Provide feedback – positive and constructive to keep people motivated and moving along.

Tell us about your successful continuous improvement initiatives on Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Until next week!