A culture of continuous improvement is no management fad … In fact, it could be the Holy Grail

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on August 28, 2014

How many of you have experienced initiatives launched by your company’s leadership that promise to lead to strong revenue and bottom-line growth, delighted customers, grateful shareholders and long-term sustainable competitive advantage — the “Holy Grail?” How many of these initiatives have delivered the expected results, and how many have been sustainable long-term?

Over the years, many initiatives have been proposed by consultants to deliver the Holy Grail. The business press dub these as “management fads.” As I moved up the ranks of PQ Corp., I sat through countless hours of presentations listening to management gurus expound on why his or her initiative is the “next best thing.” Like many companies, we were searching for the Holy Grail.

A Google search of the term “management fad” includes the following: management by objectives; matrix management; if it’s not broke, fix it anyway; total quality management; business process re-engineering; delayering; six sigma; Baldrige Quality Award and Kaizen. Today, you hardly hear about any of these. Others are recognized as best practices, and some have become common practices. Why is this the case?

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