Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This is a guest post by Antonio Ferraro

Everybody wants quick wins and big results

Most people want to make quick and easy changes that yield big results. Who doesn’t want something quicker, easier, and cheaper?

We are no longer satisfied with mediocre results. Not that long ago we were content with dial-up internet. Dial-up was all we knew in most households. However, the mere thought of utilizing an unsteady, slow dial-up internet connection today, would send shivers up anyone’s spine.

We expect giant leaps forward.

We are always in the process of improvement, hence the term continuous improvement.

But continuous improvement isn’t about giant leaps

Continuous improvement is not about taking giant leaps, but more about taking many small steps that will eventually lead to greater impacting results.

So what are the components that you need to make continuous improvement an effective practice?

Continuous improvement is about commitment

Let’s clear the air here:

  • Continuous improvement is not a quick fix
  • It cannot be successfully implemented overnight.
  • It will not happen on its own
  • And will most likely fail if employees and staff are not fully committed to embracing changes.

Continuous Improvement must start with a commitment between management and employees to engage in waste elimination.

Continuous Improvement is about communication

Employees are a valuable resource in helping to find waste since they are in the work environment every day. This is why communication is so important, when employees openly communicate with management the possibilities are almost endless, issues only seen by shop floor employees may be completely overlooked by office staff and vice versa.

It is vital that communication flows in all directions and that employees feel empowered to share and take part.

Continuous Improvement is about patience

The essential goal is to remove waste!

All processes and practices should be reviewed and broken apart piece by piece to find potential wastes. Transparency is key. Many wastes are underlying and take time to uncover and eliminate.

Moving too quickly when evaluating processes for waste is generally ineffective.

Continuous Improvement is an ongoing practice

One common mistake that has plagued improvement ambitions time and time again is managers becoming satisfied with results too soon and stopping.

One large business I worked with started on the improvement road with great success. All members of management as well as employees were on board, weekly meetings were held to communicate, share ideas, wonders, and improvements in the work. However, after many little changes were made in processes and practices the drive started to slow down.

As management became a little less engaged in improvement, employees did as well. Employees began to fall back into previous ways and continuous improvement ultimately came to a halt. All that hard work in the beginning ultimately led to a failed effort.

It is crucial to embrace improvement as an ongoing, never-ending practice or it will not survive the test of time.

It is about small steps and lots of them

Engaging in continuous improvement is all about taking little steps in waste elimination to reach greater goals of effectiveness and efficiently. However, it takes commitment, communication, patience and practice to really address process improvements correctly and efficiently.

There is a reason slow and steady wins the race.

Antonio Ferraro writes on behalf of Creative Safety Supply

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Image by M Francis McCarthy


  1. Hello Antonio and James

    It occurs to me that continuous improvement is rather like gardening. First, you have to make sure that the right conditions are in place. Then you plant the seed with care. Once planted, you take regular and good care to help the seed grow. That requires both nurturing in the form of food. And it requires dealing with threat, the weeds, that are likely to get in the way. Most of all it requires patience with the process: the willingness to put in effort over a considerable period of time and see the fruits arise in the longer term.

    Which begs the question: who has patience in the West?


    • James Lawther says:

      I love the question Maz

      It reminds me of an old Chinese proverb (allegedly Chinese anyway)

      The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now


  2. Great points! Thanks so much for the link to my post on the subject.

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