Continuous Improvement: Human Systems

Managers apply rigorous analytical tools and methodologies to understand where they can improve business processes.  They dedicate vast resources of money, time and manpower to improve operations, expecting some “X” percent improvement.

How often do managers apply the same logic to the human system?  Isn’t it naive to assume that human systems cannot also be continuously improved, and that it is worthwhile to dedicate rigorous analytics,  methodologies and resources to understand and intervene in order to do so?  Yet ignoring the dynamic opportunities to harvest the agility and capability of the human system is the norm in business.

Humans have significant inherent worth that machines and business processes do not:  the ability to think, to adapt and to innovate. That means that they can problem-solve current constraints, anticipate new opportunities and ways of doing things, and alter their actions (even their tools and procedures) so that they can remain relevant.

Machines and processes are static entities that will only do what they have been set up to do, and can quickly become obsolete.  Migrating from legacy equipment and processes can be costly.

But people can Continuously Improve…and in fact are continuously improving to provide value.  As long as the “change” is not too threatening, people in fact WANT to improve.  If they are young it makes them feel excited.  If they are older, it makes them feel young.

The obligation of the leader is to help the human system change and adapt.  It may in fact be the single most important thing a leader can do when preparing for the future.

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