Source: Continuous Improvement Associates

Business Applications
Exponential Improvement
By Bob Powell, 11/04/01

An exponential improvement workshop moves teams from firefighting to long-term improvement.

They learn to make the invisible, visible, that is: the problems prevented are made visible.

It allows rewarding problem prevention instead of firefighting.

The Major Barrier to Improvement:
We've never learned to reward people for the disasters that never happened
... that is, the disasters they've prevented. 
Bob Powell (1994)

Exponential Improvement prevents problems to allow organizations stay out of crisis.

Staying out of crisis is the only decent way to live.


Be a Genius!

Use this approach to prevent problems by understanding how to reward people for disaster prevention, not crisis management.

I hadn't seen this Einstein quote until 15 years after I wrote the statement above.

Problem prevention is GENIUS in action.


A major focus in both business and in government must be to create systems that do not set people up to fail, but which make it easier for individuals to succeed. Everyone screws up sometimes. The point is to create systems that make it more difficult to screw up.

This approach is so powerful that organizations of all kinds should be beating a path to implementing this approach. Unfortunately, addiction to the short-term "quick fix" blocks attention to the long term.

Exponential improvement gives organizations a way to realistically achieve consensus on improvement targets: how much improvement to expect and how long it will take to make them (half-life estimates).

It provides a way to track that improvements are progressing as expected (half-life plots). It's a method to reward teams for disaster prevention, rather than for firefighting and disaster recovery. It saves time, dollars, and even lives.


For a more detailed description of this approach, see the full paper on Exponential Improvement. (113K)

Exponential Improvement, like TQM, is a feedback process.

That's why it works!

Feedback processes result in exponential behavior.













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