When friends or family ask me about my job, I explain that my company provides a software platform that supports business efforts around continuous improvement. Their reactions tell me a lot about some of the common myths that are floating around about the approach. Here are a few that I hear frequently.
1 – It’s only for manufacturing companies
While it is true that the idea of continuous improvement is often associated with the Japanese auto makers, including Toyota, who pioneered a systematic approach to quality assurance and business process improvement, the concept is being used today in organizations of all types. After all, what type of company can’t improve? We’ve seen continuous improvement initiatives have tremendous benefits for health care organizations, software companies, not-for-profit organizations, and almost every other type of business.
2 – It requires a business process methodology like Six Sigma
There are many popular business process methodologies that add a level of structure and a common language to continuous improvement. Six Sigma, Lean and Total Quality Management (TQM) are a few. However, it is not necessary to embrace one of them to benefit from continuous improvement. Structure is certainly necessary, but it can be achieved with or without another named business methodology.
3 – You have to form a committee
Some organizations do appoint specific people to oversee their continuous improvement efforts on either a full or part time basis. This can often help accelerate improvement, but it is not essential.