Sometimes I hear people ask, “When will our organization be lean?” or “When will we be a culture of continuous improvement?” And although these seem like good questions, fundamentally, they’re pointed in the wrong direction. Being ‘lean’ or having a ‘culture of continuous improvement’ – for the sake of themselves – aren’t ‘ends’. They’re ‘means’ – the ‘how we get there’  – for focusing on customers and creating and delivering peak service experiences for them. When we speak of ‘lean’ and/or ‘continuous improvement’, or ‘problem-solving’ for that matter, as separate, stand-alone ‘things’ – ‘ends’ – it’s easy to get hyper-focused on achieving them for themselves…and when we do that, we forget that they’re simply countermeasures to conditions that are currently preventing us from satisfying our customers and fulfilling our organization’s purpose.

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