Andrew’s recent reflections about the relevance of continuous improvement practitioners in these times mirror my thoughts with an added perspective. If lean thinking and continuous improvement were only about measuring production and process I would wholly agree. However, continuous improvement, in my mind, is more about positive change and moving toward perfection than it is specifically about process measurement. Measurement of tasks completed and widgets made is one of many ways to determine if you are improving.

Measurement of production tells you if you are meeting your goals. It is a way of keeping score. What about measuring the quality of life, attitude, self assessment, compassion, selflessness as it relates to employees and their families? Certainly change and improvement is needed is this arena, a least for some corporate leaders. (peanuts and publically funded retention awards immediately come to mind).

The tools of our trade cannot only include strategies to improve the measurement and thus quality of a process but must include teaching other less finite but still important concepts and work strategies related to maintaining a positive attitude in light of hard times. If you re-read Henry Ford and see some of the
potentially overwhelming challenges he faced while developing his product and process, you will see this added tool of continuous improvement being used.

We are more than our measuring tools. We are human beings working towards perfecting work processes and in some cases the people that control those processes. If we focus only on the process, we run the risk of making the people obsolete.

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