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Slow, steady improvement wins the race

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Real leaders look outward to customers, even though it’s easier to focus on what’s happening in-house.

So, why did the leaders at GM and Ford wait until their credit was rated as junk and they’d lost billions to act decisively? Is crisis necessary before change?

The answer is “No.” Continuous improvement is difficult but not impossible.

Here’s how:
  • Make things better for customers. Sony evidently didn’t think too hard about this principle when it encased its music CDs with copy-protection software that amounted to spyware.

    And the head of production for New Line Cinema found this out the hard way when he went to see “War of the Worlds.” Toby Emmerich had a choice between seeing the movie at Jim Carrey’s house or in a theater like everybody else. He decided to see the movie where consumers would see it, but “had no idea how many obnoxious ads I’d have to endure.”

    Talk with your customers throughout planning and development, and use your products as they do, to make sure they don’t have to “endure” anything.

  • Jump the gun on improvement. Improving what you sell before you have to is the only way to show your customers and employees that you’re doing what they imagine you’re there for: making things better. Ever notice how so many new companies burst on the scene and then fail to evolve?
Lesson: It ain’t glamorous, and you’ll need to make it seem urgent, but slow and steady improvement wins the race.

—Adapted from “Is progress possible without crisis?” Max McKeown,

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