Do you have a garden? Every gardener knows that a beautiful garden is the result of constant tending and continual improvement. It requires weeding, pruning, some seasonal planting, and occasionally moving plants to a better location, or even replacing them with a different variety.
In 2018 the Harvard Business Review published the results of a 5 year study on 100 year old organisations which was conducted to understand the secrets to their successful longevity. A number of findings stood out to me, but none more so than the focus on “better not bigger”. The authors of the study talk about “a stable core and a disruptive edge”, stating that these organisations “tirelessly tweak” to make many small improvements rather than implement any monumental or disruptive changes.
Companies with ISO9001 certification will be familiar with the concept of continual improvement. The 100 year old organisations in the study included NASA, Eton College, the New Zealand All Blacks, and the Royal Academy of Music. They are leading examples of the ISO9001 continual improvement process – they have a stable purpose yet they continually seek to improve.
Perhaps you’ve visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney recently. It is a glorious wonder and is over 200 years old. Next time you wander through take a moment to notice that the gardens are also being tirelessly tweaked and the result of continual improvement.