Sometimes people who are implementing a continuous improvement program ask me “How will we know when it’s working”? I always respond with: “What does ‘working’ mean?” Usually, my question is met with silence, then after some time, the answer of “I don’t know”. Or “We’re getting better” or some other vague response of that nature. Problem is, as organizations (and people) we often set out to “do something” without defining not only of what the “end” looks like, but what we should be “looking for” to see how we are progressing along the way. In a service organization, “working” can mean many things: our business is growing, customers are recommending us to others, our team members can turn creative ideas into peak services…and others. But unless we define what “working” means to our customers and our company, we’ll never know.

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