In case you missed Part 1, don’t forget to read the article!
Continuous improvement seems obvious to consider, why doesn’t everyone do this all the time?
Continuous improvement is great and should be practiced on a regular basis, but it does come with its set of large challenges:
Improvement means change
The natural tendency around change is to be reluctant.
People are scared of the unknown and this adds stress to their daily lives. If for example they are handed a completely new software to use every day compared to the old one they mastered, they may become worried they won’t master the new one, or that they won’t be able to be as efficient.
It’s also important to note that people love their routine, some more than others, and changing that can bring frustration from team members.
It requires time and it’s secondary
When it comes to prioritizing between a client project against an internal project of adopting a new process, the client project will always come first as it is considered more important.
This constraints continuous improvement a lot because it generally becomes the thing we’ll do “when we have time” and this can be very rare or even nonexistent.
It’s a long-term view rather than a short-term view
People often go for the instant gratification, and the long-term benefit is often put aside. Continuous improvement is always working more now to benefit soon or much later.
For example, if installing a new project management tool means lots hours of work transferring projects to the new tool, more hours to train people to use it, not mention the initial learning curve where everyone will be less efficient and will need constant support, this can mean 50 hours of work.
If you look at it short-term, it will look like we just spent 50 hours only to be slower. Crazy, right?
If you look at it from a long-term point of view, once everyone is ramped-up, every project going forward will benefit from the added efficiency and will be more on budget. This means you could get back your 50 hours in 2-3 projects for example, and every additional project would be even more benefit again and again.
It’s hard to know where to start
Since everything can be improved all the time, people don’t know where to start, and this infinite number of choices can make people freeze and avoid the situation completely.
You may be someone with no authority inside a team, so even if you want to bring improvement, it doesn’t mean it will accepted nor that you will be able to secure the resources needed to make the change.
It can also be more challenging to have the change be adopted by everyone since they might not listen to you.
It’s a constant fight
Continuous improvement is challenging, and the bigger the improvement or the team, the bigger the challenge. You often feel like you have to fight your way through change, whether to create the change or to maintain it. All of this makes continuous improvement hard to adopt, but who said the best things in life were the easiest?
Stay tuned for part 3!