More Than Just Tools: How to Begin Building a Sustainable Culture of Continuous Improvement
Where can business leaders find a blueprint for transforming their company through continuous improvement? As Executive Director of one of the most prestigious Lean awards in the country, The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence, Robert Miller has seen leaders build lasting cultures on the valuable concepts of The Shingo Model.
We asked him for advice he would give business leaders within the graphic arts industry on beginning a continuous improvement program. Of course, like anything worth accomplishing, building a successful program comes with intrinsic challenges. Robert also offers some tips on how you can focus and prepare for these challenges and get on your way to creating a prosperous Lean organization.
…Or maybe even receiving the next Shingo Prize?
Q: What is the first thing that leaders need to start doing in order to build a culture of excellence?
Robert Miller: First, leaders must make it very clear in their own minds, and in the collective minds of the leadership team, what excellence looks like. This cannot be a description of the tools people will be using or the programs that must be implemented. Rather excellence requires a clear description of the results expected and an equally clear focus on the behaviorsthat must be demonstrated by both the senior team and management teams in addition to all of the associates in the organization. With a clear picture of what excellence must look like, organization leaders must then be able to see the realities of where they currently are relative to this new standard of excellence.
Q: What guiding principles should leaders focus on?
RM: All of the principles identified in the Shingo Model are critical in the creation of enterprise excellence, but in reality most organizations are in different places relative to these principles. The best place to start is to identify the business outcomes that are in greatest need of improvement then determine which of the ten guiding principles will have the greatest impact on those outcomes.