Increasing Productivity Requires A Continuous Improvement Mindset

Measuring the “The Right Stuff” Makes Improved Productivity Visible

The Challenge

Countless businesses strive to create and maintain a culture of continuous improvement. The idea is whatever happened yesterday isn’t good enough for tomorrow. Tomorrow is an opportunity to do it even better. Better tomorrows require organizations to be more productive every day – and for good reason!

Experience suggests that 30% to 40% of every employee’s time is lost due to waste and non-value adding activities they perform. Yet often, continuous improvement stalls because people say they are too busy. They don’t have the time to find “better” ways. Being to busy is exactly why you need continuous improvement.

The saying “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you ever going to have time to fix it?”, holds true. The rate of change in today’s business world has made management’s top priority one of building a culture of continuous improvement and higher productivity.

The Continuous Improvement State Of Mind

Continuous improvement requires a never-ending effort to challenge the status quo and rethink existing business processes. The drive for improved productivity must constantly ask:

  • Can we do it better?
  • Can we do it cheaper?
  • Can we do it easier?
  • Can we do it faster?
  • Can we make it fool proof?
  • How else can we do it?

It may be hard to define, but an organization’s culture is directly linked to its productivity, business performance, employee satisfaction and how employees engage with customers and stakeholders.

To the business leaders and managers that have developed continuous improvement cultures, we say great! Keep it going. Improving productivity is a strategic advantage to your organization.

For those taking the initial steps or have tried and failed, consider this.

Understanding What’s Important To “WIN”

Central to any successful undertaking is a clear understanding of the performance metrics that are vital to success.

For example, in Formula 1 racing pit stops have been evolving for decades. The belief in the Formula 1 racing was that races were won in the pits.

However, it hasn’t always been that way. The super-fast pit stops of today are conducted by highly-trained crews that are more athletes than mechanics.

A pit stop during the 1950 Indianapolis 500 took 67 seconds. Compare that to today – a pit stop for 4 tires and fuel takes……..12–16 seconds.

These gains in pit crew productivity came about by identifying the detailed activities of each crew member. Activities that can be measured! Once measured, each activity can be analyzed and changes made to reduce the time required. Today’s pit stops are a result of the drive to improve the productivity of the pit crew. Changes that include the physical fitness of each crew member and the tools they use.

A Business World Of Rapid Change

The Formula 1 pit stop is one small example of the significant, and sometimes disruptive, changes taking place in every corner of our world.

New technologies and systems have altered the way our world works. However, many businesses have been slow in adapting to such changes. Changes that have made many existing business models outdated.

Responding to change, or even better driving change, requires a new level of business “fitness”. Fitness that will use resources more effectively. Fitness training to help team members become more productive within a continuous improvement culture.

Could A “Fitbit” Mindset Drive Business Efficiency And Team Productivity?

A truth in the game of continuous improvement is, “if you can’t measure it, you don’t know how to improve it”. A similar proposition is “Measure everything, otherwise you have NO idea what you’re doing.”

One of the great benefits of the latest generation of fitness trackers is that they never forget or lose track of time. They measure and monitor everything. If you program your Fitbit device to remind you of your commitment to 20 minutes of activity every single day, it will do it.

That “constant” reminder, makes it much harder for any person to forget what they are supposed to do. Some applications even make you feel slightly guilty about “skipping” a day.

Seeing a blank space on your daily fitness progress chart or the blinking light on your personal “dashboard” can serve as subtle yet powerful motivator.


What does an organization need to do to create and maintain a continuous improvement mindset?

The reality is that all too often organizations set measures based on financial targets. That’s not all bad thing since financial targets represent what the business needs to accomplish. Unfortunately, what is missing are metrics that are aligned with, and understood by, the team members that must execute their daily tasks to achieve those financial targets.

Just as today’s fitness trackers continuously monitor and report personal fitness metrics meaningful to the user, so must the key performance metrics of a business. Creating and reporting on performance metrics that are meaningful to each business function and the team members involved is essential for success.

Ben Boldt
Ben Boldt

Founder And Lead Consultant, Visionary Solution Resources, Inc. (a BeachFleischman strategic alliance partner). Experienced business consultant on strategic and operational performance with a successful track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and change management.