continuous improvement cycle

Continuous Improvement: Not an Option

We all like to think that we’re doing the best we can. At the same time, almost all of us can look at work we did 5 years ago and think, “Wow, I am doing things much better now!”

The example that comes to mind is the way I’ve handled contact forms on websites. I was thrilled that my primary website theme developer incorporated a contact form into the theme. That meant I didn’t have to fiddle with third-party contact form plugins. Fewer plugins, less to maintain…it was a win all around. What I found out eventually (as in 5 years later…) is that Gmail and other email providers have evolved and become more secure. Messages fired off using PHP Mail from a web server now have a lot less chance of being successfully delivered. The status quo for email has been, “Email is inherently insecure. Don’t trust it.” But innovators like Google have refused to accept that status quo. Messages that are sent the same way lazy spammers send them are now likely to be considered spam, even if they are legitimate.

This was a fairly complicated problem that I had to solve for a few clients and projects. It was a huge headache, and I was thrilled to arrive at a solution that met their needs. One thing I failed to do, however, was take that knowledge and apply it to my own site and other clients’ sites who likely had the same trouble.

The Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle is not new. Business thought leaders from Seth Godin to Peter Drucker to Kanban Master Josette Russell have written volumes on the subject. In my business, it’s been a lot easier to Do, Check and Act than to Plan. And it’s a whole lot easier to go through Plan, Do, Check, Act one time rather than on a continuous basis.

Here’s to remembering that business is an infinite game. The best solutions a couple of years ago might still be the best. But there might be a better approach available today.