I have long said that the measure of management improvement isn’t only about improving; what matters is the speed at which the management system and internal processes are being improved. Improvement is a given. If an organization is not improving every year the odds of long term success is low.
One of the common objections to a need for improvement is that we are doing fine and we are improving (so leave us alone we are already improving). That is better than not doing fine and not improving but it isn’t a reason to be complacent. Managers should be continually pushing the improvement acceleration higher.
The biggest problems I see with a focus on being faster are attempting move faster than the capability of the organization and falling back on working harder as a method to achieve the faster action. Really these are the same issue – working harder is just a tactic to cope with attempting to achieve better results than the system is capable of.
Agile software development has a principle, sustainable development, which is a reaction to the far too common attitude of management to just have software developers work longer and longer hours to meet targets. Any attempt to be faster internally or respond to a faster marketplace should first put the principle of sustainable workload as a requirement. And next build the capability of the enterprise to respond quickly and keep increasing how quickly it can respond effectively.
The well know management improvement concepts, practices and tools will lead an organization to improve that capability reliably, sustainable and continuously.
My new book, Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability, delves into how to manage an enterprise based on the ideas needed to apply management improvement concepts, practices and tools to achieve results, including, but not limited to, faster.