8 Reasons Why Business Improvement Initiatives Fail

Here are 8 mistakes I see organisations make when trying to create some form of improvement:

  1. There’s no base to build upon. Most initiatives just start with whatever systems the company has in place at that time. They fail to review the suitability of those systems or what can change to provide a good practice base for future activity.
  2. They rely on finding breakthroughs. Too often, companies spend their time and energy looking for the leading edge breakthrough that will change everything. Unfortunately, this approach diverts attention from applying the simple and known solutions that already work.
  3. They try to reinvent the well. If you are in the early stages of improvement, just copy something that works. Later, as part of the improvement process, you can work on evolving that more specifically.
  4. They ‘cherry pick’ good practice. Often it seems easy to try to identify the single element of good practice that is the key to another company’s success and apply that to your own business. This ignores that the result is likely to be systematic and comes from having established a sound base to build upon (see my first point).
  5. They are obsessed with efficiencies. Companies that strive for efficiency need to be sure they are effective first. There is no point in doing the wrong thing very well.
  6. They don’t pay attention to the little things. It is too easy and popular to take the big picture view and it is often assumed that things will just work. For example, consider the company that spent £1000’s on new inventory software only to find that their team did not complete the required daily updates! This meant that their data was out of date and their original problem wasn’t resolved. In this case, they need to address a culture issue.
  7. They are locked in a silo approach. Business structure often impacts the way we see the world. If someone is focusing on improving their own small part of a company in isolation, it is highly likely that the result will be poor at best. Businesses are systems, and improvement is a process.
  8. There is no continuation. Once improvement has been made, most companies focus their attentions on the next problem. Change and improvement must be monitored to ensure it is sustainable and effective. Also, once proven to be effective, what’s wrong with raising the bar…again?

Good business improvement requires a long-term view, imagination, creativity and innovation. Success can be achieved through doing things differently, being systematic in your process and making improvement a strategic choice.

Which of these 8 are familiar to you?

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