Innovation or continuous improvement?


If you asked people if their companies continuously improved products, services, and processes, they would probably answer, “Yes!”

Innovation mindsetIf you asked them if their organizations were innovative, they would probably say, “No.” That is unless your organization is a tech organization like Google, 3M, Apple, Amazon, etc. Smaller organizations often equate innovation with big company R&D budgets.

So, what’s the difference? I am not sure. Continuous improvement and innovation are both attitudes and behaviors that drive incremental improvements and sometimes the “ah-ha moments” that lead to radical breakthroughs.

More importantly, there is management’s support at all levels of the company to successfully drive both continuous improvement and innovation. Culture and commitment don’t just happen they’re created and actively supported. Some of the intentional behaviors are:

  • Management’s commitment to improve; its active leadership to change; and everyone knows intelligent risk taking, mistake-making, and learning are encouraged.
  • Cross functional discussions asking –
    • What do our customers need, how can we do it better, when can we try it, and test it?
    • What are others (not just our competitors) doing in similar situations? Can we improve upon that?
    • How many pilot projects do we have in the works? When will we see the results?
  • Structured problem solving and fact-based communication

Do you hear comments like, “Our competitors must be giving away their products and services! There’s no way they can be making money.” Yet, those same competitors have been in business for years, offering new products and services, engaging their people and growing their customer lists.

Whether we call it innovation or continuous improvement make a strong commitment to problem solving and incremental learning. Occasionally, there will be solutions and ideas that lead to breakthrough – really innovative – products and services driving more revenue at less cost.(© Terry Myers, Des Moines)

Terry Myers
Business Edge Management Consulting
p. 515.556.2229                                     

A little more about us:

We are a Des Moines-based management consulting firm that guides companies to bridge the gap from stress to success. We provide assessment and management consulting services to resolve difficult situations. Our experience, objective viewpoint and expertise translate into superior results!

  • Management Consulting & Education
  • Assessment 
  • Strategy
  • Measurement
  • Execution 

How can Business Edge help you? Simple. We save you time and money. We get right to the heart of the matter, and regardless of how difficult and complicated a situation is, we can help you see through the distractions, sort through the layers and get rid of the extraneous to sort out the problems that inhibit results. Then we can help you develop management processes and solutions and guide you through implementation. Business Edge has offices in Des Moines, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.

One thought on “Innovation or continuous improvement?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *