Why Do Most Continuous Improvement Programmes Fail?

It seems counter –intuitive that something called “continuous improvement” can fail, but fail they do. Hammad M. Hammad writes in an article that the misunderstanding of such programs, the lack of focus in deployment of said programs, and the misalignment of both goals and rewards can lead to a failed project. Management can also be to blame: In the majority of cases, the CI push comes from the executive level and is pushed down through the organization. This is fine as long as executives understand that the effective CI programs are not limited to deploying problem-solving and process-improvement techniques. They require a major cultural shift that takes time, resources, and direct involvement from all levels of the organization. Management needs to display clear commitment to continuous improvement, follow up on the progress in implementing the program, and hold people accountable for their performance. Hammad goes on to say that sometimes there is actually a valid commitment on the part of the manager, and that manager will successfully see the project through. However, that still leaves the issues of misunderstanding, lack of focus, and misalignment. When one does not understand the project at hand, one will most likely find it difficult to focus. The reward system in CI seems to be based more on what level of knowledge you have attained instead of how you actually use this knowledge. People can take a test and score well, but if that information gets pushed out of their mind to make room for information on the next test, there will never be enough information left to benefit the program. Furthermore, Hammad adds that some of these programs are just too expensive to begin with. If these mistakes are not remedied, CI programs will continue to fail.

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