Improvement (whether step-change or incremental) depends on people not experts.

Many organisations understand that improvement is vital for growth, and growth in turn is vital for ongoing success. However many still miss one of the most vital lessons – improvement ideas are useless unless successfully implemented and they will not be implemented without the involvement of the staff doing the job. Managers and experts are important but they do not have a monopoly on good ideas.

Practical improvement ideas and effective implementation come through well-led teams and motivated people.

Recently I made a purchase through Amazon Marketplace and I received the usual acknowledgment that indicated a delivery in 5 to 8 days. Within half a day I received a text from a delivery company saying that they were in receipt of the delivery and that I would receive further delivery information soon. I was impressed.

The next morning I received a text saying that the delivery would be made in a given 2-hour window during that day. Again I was impressed by the response of the organisation and by the fact that the delivery would be made 1.5 days after the order was placed. Unfortunately the 2-hour window was not suitable but the text contained a number so I called to reschedule the delivery.

This was where my good impression was shattered. Over the space of 2 hours I called the number 6 times – 3 times it rang out and 3 times it was engaged. In the end I gave up. Fortunately the delivery was made 2 hours late and someone was available to receive it so I did not need to get the delivery rescheduled.

Overall I would have been happy with a delivery to the original promise, I was impressed by the rapid and informative response, but the fact that no one answered the call has now left me dissatisfied. It feels as though there was a good improvement idea that was badly implemented.

Improvement ideas badly implemented can lead to poorer results and reduce customer satisfaction.

So often in management, having the ideas is the easy part. Turning them in to effective ideas and practical implementation requires the hard work and it needs leaders to set aside their natural desire to control and to learn the ability to oversee and facilitate improvement.

To deliver improvement, leaders need to see themselves not as the source of good ideas but as the facilitators for engaging all employees in improvement.

Andrew Kearns
Hartswood Management Ltd
Delivering real transformation

Suggestions for further actions:

Read Changing Spots – a systems approach to change management for a structured approach to look at the approach to organisation-wide improvement (see
See Improvement can start small as well as big for ideas about continuous improvement (

For advice on structuring your transformation or change programme please email

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