Whatever the organization’s maturity level (go see “week of a black belt part 4-5-6-7”), any improvement initiative needs top management engagement and commitment. Usually, there is enough management attention at the beginning. The CEO or Executive team has announced the initiative and walks the talk for a while. However, there are so many 1000 things to manage when heading an organization and therefore there is a high risk of CEO or ET attention fading away.

In my experience lasting top management commitment and engagement has to be earned (there are off course examples like GE and some others where this is not the case).

One way to earn it: if you are in charge of running a process improvement deployment or if you are selecting business improvement projects, consider your management as a customer. Try to understand their needs and wants. Probably the CEO and his direct reports they have a “big Y” like “create more cash flow”. Use a Y=F(X) cascade approach to determine how they envision to accomplish this “big Y”. If within the big Y is a y “customer acquisition”, it may be nice to fix quality defects for your current customers, but it won’t earn you much attention. On the other hand, if you put some projects on your road map to improve customer acquisition processes, you will get more attention, because you have aligned your improvement agenda to the management agenda. This is just one way …

I’m sure many of you have similar challenges and experiences. I’m looking forward to all your comments and suggestions how you have earned long lasting and sustained top management commitment and engagement. Thanks in advance for your reactions!

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