Sustain or Continually Improve?

Your project team achieved their goal, Congratulations!  Now what happens? The team assumes all the improvements will stick and everyone will readily adopt the new standardized work. They want to sustain the improvements, or do they? Sustain is to keep in existence; maintain, continue, or prolong.


Perhaps instead of sustaining, the team would like to continually improve? Continual improvement is the ongoing, incremental improvement of processes that lead to achievement of higher levels of performance. Do you seek to maintain or keep getting better?


If you are interested in advancing beyond sustaining to continually improving, here are a few features to establish with the team and actively pursue:

  1. Designate a process owner responsible for continual improvement of the project scope. The process owner will coach performance by communicating status, facilitating feedback and consequences, aiding in problem resolve, and celebrating success
  2. Teach the new process effectively (Tell, Show, Do, Recycle education principle) with visual standardized work and clear accountabilities
  3. Define and operationalize measures and targets that are openly tracked and visible to all team members and stakeholders
  4. Create a feedback mechanism for receiving questions and ideas; resolve problems on a frequent basis and incrementally improve
  5. Lead routine, quick (think stand-up) team meetings, with a structured problem solving approach like a Continual Improvement System and celebrate successes!