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Part 1 of our series on the 7 Common Mistakes Made with Lean or Six Sigma Initiatives. Click the link to see the rest of the list.

Far too often businesses launch their continuous improvement initiative as something new and separate from operations. By definition a process of continuous improvement requires integration into daily operations and the management systems.

Driving continuous improvement is the line organization’s responsibility and accountability. Having a large improvement department can displace this accountability and significantly weaken your continuous improvement efforts.

The most powerful improvement organizations I have encountered are small and decentralized. At each level of the business there was a CI professional directly reporting to a line manager, and indirectly reporting to the CI level above. This kept improvement accountability in the line organization yet provided a support structure for the CI professionals as well.

The worst improvement organizations have been centralized, large and disconnected from the line organization. This arrangement often results in misplaced accountability. If this is what you have created in your business, take a hard look at who is in this group and how they are contributing to the business. Ask your line managers about each of the members – would they hire them to fill a vacancy in their organization? If not, you have a problem!

The failure to integrate improvement implementation typically leads directly to many of the remaining seven mistakes!

If your organization has failed to integrate continuous improvement into your line organization remember, it is never too late to integrate and reap the benefits!

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