Part 2 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.

Driving continuous improvement is the line organization’s responsibility and accountability. This includes the identification and justification of areas to be improved.

When leadership has abdicated their responsibility for determining Where and Why improvement projects should be undertaken to a support organization, they are doing a grave disservice to the organization. Poorly focused (and supported) projects and events can be a major source of waste and disenchantment.

It is the functional manager’s responsibility and accountability to improve their processes in the context of the entire system. Each manager needs to understand how their department contributes to the success of the whole, and then set specific and measurable improvements to their processes that advance the system as a whole. This means that some departments will need to ‘take a bullet’ for the team and sub-optimize their area of responsibility for the improvement of another department, to advance the good of the whole.


Leadership has work to do to establish the proper relationship between all segments of their business. Improvement will absolutely mean different things in different areas, and you better get that right up front or risk doing damage to the business.

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