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Lean. Very lean.

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!

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