How many people involved in quality improvement initiatives have ever uttered this question? There have been many, without a doubt. You have been there before. Your team has just finished a project and briefed the leadership team on the results of your efforts. Everyone on the team is excited and very proud of the results, clearly backed-up by solid statistical data. Quality is improved, cost savings is achieved and production has increased. It is clearly a proud day! Then after presenting the achievements, the first question asked by the CEO is how can we improve on these results for next year? Everyone on the team has the wind knocked out of them and they pause for a moment in a blank stare. After all the hard work and success, your being asked to ‘do it again’ and achieve some significant results. The question then becomes … Will it ever be good enough?
The short and long answer is NO. It will never be good enough and nor should it be. That is not to say that the success your team has achieved should not be celebrated, but the simple fact is, that is now in the past. It is time, again, to look forward and lean forward. Isn’t that what quality improvement is all about? Of course it is! Successful organizations achieve that success by forward thinking and never accepting the current standards are good enough. Strong leadership teams understand the fundamentals of quality improvement. They also know that they must continually strive for optimum performance while encouraging the energy of their quality improvement teams to find ways to reach their goals in a positive manner. It is a fine balance to maintain, but the best organizations always find the way.
Customers not only expect, but they demand better performance, better quality and more value for their money. In other words, the expectation can never stand still. Quality Improvement teams must move from success to success with fresh eyes, and renewed leadership. Any organization that accepts the standard to be the status quo will surely lose out across the board. Once a goal is met and we have celebrated and rewarded the accomplishment, we must quickly move on to setting the bar even higher. To do anything less would be quitting.