Ten reasons your Business Improvement deployment failed

/Ten reasons your Business Improvement deployment failed
  • business improvement deployment failed

There is a lot of focus placed on how organisations can find the right way to improve their business. The culture of each business is like a unique personality which, while malleable, needs to be respected by your solution of choice. However, we’ve found that it’s not selecting your Business Improvement methodology that’s the hard part, it’s successfully implementing it.

In our experience, businesses frequently underestimate the barriers to a successful implementation, causing perfectly good Business Improvement methodologies to fail. So what’s causing so many deployments to derail? Here’s our rundown of the top ten.

1. Senior managers don’t understand what they’re signing up for

The buy-in of key senior managers is essential to get a Business Improvement approach signed off. But if they are only aware of the end-goals rather than the work required along the way enthused members of the C-suite can quickly become disenchanted, with abandonment of the programme usually not too far behind.

2. You picked the wrong project

People always judge the strength of a Business Improvement programme on the success of the first project. Ensure that the project you pick is neither too easy so it is dismissed nor too challenging so it doesn’t reach completion.

3. Your project isn’t linked to business strategy

If a project doesn’t support the wider business goals, why would managers spend valuable time and resources on it? Just as it is important to consider the size of a project, it is essential to identify how it fits in with the wider strategy to prevent it becoming side-lined in favour of tasks that will further the business objectives.

4. The candidate is not given the time they need to work on improvement

In order to carry a project through to its successful completion – and actually generate benefits for the company – you need to be given the time and resources necessary. However, all too often project leaders are asked to fit Business Improvement in alongside their other tasks, ensuring it eventually becomes their lowest priority.

5. There is no Sponsor, or the Sponsor doesn’t understand the point

The role of the Sponsor is to grease the wheels within the organisation to ensure that the necessary resources are made available, and by communicating with key stakeholders and managers. Without someone effectively carrying out this vital role, the project leader can face too many hurdles for the programme to be a success.

6. Data is unreliable or weak

Your decisions are only as good as your data. If you know that your data is unreliable or incomplete you can’t expect the outcomes to be favourable. However, many programmes become unstuck because not enough time is spent gathering data to start with, and without this baseline you can neither move forwards nor prove any progress you’ve made.

7. No one involves the finance department

If one of your main measures of success is cost-savings, you need to be able to show accurate financial figures. If finance is not involved from the off they may not have the information they need to rubber stamp your figures, leaving your significant savings looking a lot less impressive.

8. The project leader lacks charisma or ability

All too often, a candidate is picked for Business Improvement training because they have the time available. For a successful outcome, businesses would be better off selecting a candidate with the right skills and ability.

The importance of charisma should not be underestimated either. Much of a project leader’s role is in change management and delicate persuasion so you need someone that people want to follow.

9. No time is spent on networking and influencing

With that in mind, another cause of programme failure is the lack of focus on these softer skills. For Business Improvement to be really successful, it has to become engrained in a company culture. And for that to happen, it is vital that time is spent on internal PR to illustrate to people how it will benefit them personally.

10. Internal customers are side-lined

It’s easy to remember the external customers, as for many businesses the motivation for Business Improvement is to improve quality. However, it is common to forget that customers are not limited to those who are buying a product or service. Internal customers are those who use a product or process within the company.

As the purpose of Business Improvement is to make those processes easier to use, it is essential that the voice of those internal customers is heard.

With so much to go wrong, ensuring your Business Improvement deployment is a success can seem like an insurmountable task, but it needn’t be. We found that laying the groundwork and getting a deployment off on the right foot makes all the difference. Indeed, a poll of our past Lean Six Sigma Black Belt delegates found that 100% have made meaningful change at their company and 80% have introduced significant cost savings.

If you want advice on making your Business Improvement deployment a success, we can help .[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

By |2017-02-22T16:40:32+00:00April 24th, 2014|Business Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, Projects|10 Comments

About the Author:

With a background in journalism, content writing and digital marketing, 100% Effective's Marketing Manager Philippa has a passion for putting Lean Six Sigma under a microscope to make it more interesting and accessible for everyone.


  1. Peter Buchan 24th April 2014 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    My business improvement project failed because of the political climate in which I worked. Those that were supposed to take the improvement initiative felt threatened by the concept I was using and sabotaged my efforts.
    I used Dr Juran’s process ( Dr Juran’s improvement process was the predecessor to Six Sigma and it is almost identical. Juran was a personal friend of Bob Galvin who was the CEO at Motorola around the time six sigma was introduced and there is much in common with the two concepts.)
    In my opinion a “deadly disease” not mentioned by Deming is the opinions and attitudes of long serving engineers who are in positions that have clout and don’t want to change the traditional system that has served the so well over the years. This is very evident in the former Soviet union where I am.

    • Philippa McIntosh 28th April 2014 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Peter, you’re right – sometimes politics and ego have to be very carefully managed.

  2. Mike Brook 24th April 2014 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Good article. Nicely summed up in 10 clear points, most of which we will have seen at some point and if we are honest perhaps guilty of one or more at some point!

    • Philippa McIntosh 28th April 2014 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the lovely comment Mike. I agree, there may sometimes be other causes – but these are the ten we see time and time again!

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