When Continuous Improvement Lacks Strategy: Doing things right or Doing the right things?

Kevin Duffy, Kepner-Tregoe.

Organizations over the past decade have invested millions, if not billions, of dollars in continuous improvement programs with the aim of removing waste and, ultimately, cost from their operations. Yet through a lack of consideration to strategic alignment they can end up wasting significant amounts of continuous improvement resources thereby undermining the philosophy and intent of the programs.

A key issue we observe in many organizations today is that their continuous improvement programs have become increasingly disconnected from the organization’s strategy and have evolved as standalone entities focused on efficiencies and cost. They are, therefore, much more focused on the operational context— “doing things right” (better)—rather than on the strategic context—“doing the right things”—which means finding solutions to concerns related to products and markets.

Executives are measured by how effectively their organization’s strategy is executed. And while the increased profits that come from an effective continuous improvement implementation are welcomed, it is rare that an organization can save its way to growth and glory without also enhancing its capabilities to innovate and expand.

To align operational initiatives with strategic goals, continuous improvement must be targeted at areas deemed to be of strategic importance. This is critical to the successful execution of the organization’s strategy.

継続的改善のサイズは、組織のすべての部分に適合するわけではありません。製造現場で必要とされる日々の規律は、研究開発の現場では必要ない、あるいは破壊的でさえあるかもしれません。製品やサービスの開発において規律を守ることが重要であることは論を待ちませんが、組織の競争力の源泉である創造性を阻害したり、潰したりするほどではありません。

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