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Today, Ongoing Performance Improvement at Your Company is a Must

A textbook definition of performance improvement might go something like this: “Measuring the result of a particular process or procedure, making a change that modifies the outcome then measuring the result or output again to learn whether the change increased the procedure’s output, created new efficiency or resulted in enhanced effectiveness.”


In the corporate world this takes place all the time because you always want to be evaluating and modifying processes to produce better results. A challenge, though, that many corporate leaders face today is the unpredictability of how business is being conducted now vs. how it will be conducted tomorrow, especially when you consider how technology makes new inroads every day. This is because things can quickly change in the company or in the marketplace, all but nullifying the processes that are in place. It’s been suggested that leaders change how they think about performance improvement.


So, instead of looking at performance improvement as something you do when you believe it’s necessary, or even at intervals, I suggest that it should be an ongoing initiative; something you’re continually doing. It’s very likely that it’s one of those things that, if your company isn’t doing it, your competitors are.




For several reasons.


For one, it’s a global marketplace. This is good because it opens business leaders up to more opportunities, but maybe not as good if you learn that a company in another corner of the globe does the same thing yours does, only better, with more efficiency and greater profitability.


This leads to the issue of competition. The amount of competition we all have out there is so much greater today than it has ever been. It only makes sense to ensure, on an ongoing basis, that your company’s processes are as tight as possible.


Information now travels extremely quickly. Remember the 14.4 K modems we were all using not that many years ago, and we thought it was amazing to get email and download web pages quickly on our desktops? Not so quick compared to what we have now, right?


Today we live in a culture of instant communication in which there are no walls or barriers of any kind. We learn about changes in the market right away, no, make that two seconds ago, and we need to be ready to react immediately with a capital I. When you continually monitor your processes, modify in real time as needed and stay at the forefront of your industry, you’ll be in a much better position to accept and handle change when it occurs.


So how do you do this? For that answer we turn to W. Edwards Deming, considered the father of modern quality control. There’s a management method known as “Plan-Do-Check-Act.” While Deming popularized this method in the 20th century, it can eventually be traced back to Francis Bacon’ published work Novus Organum in the 17th century.


What “Plan-Do-Check-Act” lays out, in a nutshell, is a four-step plan:

  • Plan, or establish your objectives or required processes needed to measure the results of the process you want to evaluate, and later improve.
  • Do, or collect and evaluate the data you gathered in the first step, usually a little at a time.
  • Check your data against the outcomes you expected, and compare.
  • Act, or improve the process, then determine a baseline measurement for your next study.


There’s more, of course, but this will get you started. Also, I’m happy to consult with you. At RLM Consulting, we offer this service and many others to help our clients improve their processes and improve their profitability.


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