5 Features of SJMC's Continuous Improvement Program

My responsibility to clients does not end with a list of recommendations. Instead, I work to assure that the implementation of my recommendations has the desired outcome. If we have to adjust the coordinates, fine, but a captain does not point the vessel in the right direction and then abandon ship. 
Ah Hoy Mate!

Me not really steering in Costa Rica 

Here are five things I do to assure that my clients get to their desired destination.

1 - Get Executive Management On Deck
With my proposals, I have to earn the trust of executive management. I need them to see the data that convinces them of the destination, of the vessel, the route, and the timeline. If they are convinced, then they will get everyone else on deck. I need that support from clients.

By having management support and encourage changes employees are much more likely to adopt new behaviors that support the goal.

2 - Test The Waters
Starting small is the best approach when integrating new sustainability protocols. Sometimes smaller-scale pilot projects demonstrate to employees or customers the benefits of the program in a way that is non-threatening and allows for lessons and data to be collected and integrated.

This buffer zone planting was a Pilot Project at Weston Golf Club. Here we learned about the various phases of growth, maintenance requirements, and member acceptance.

After 2 weeks the project still looked quite bare, an important reference point while managing future expectations. 

At the 1 year anniversary of the project, management, employees, and members gave full support for further pond-side plantings. 

Pilot projects allow you to work out the kinks in the new process in a small scale before jumping into a larger size project where the risks can result in irreversible or expensive side effects.

3 - Set Sail With Meaning
Employees (the crew) are key to making a continuous improvement culture successful. I solicit ideas from the team and encourage them to share by rewarding and recognizing them accordingly. I filter my proposals through employees to assure that their knowledge of operations is embedded into what I propose. I can't propose something that the employees don't believe in.

Employees supported managements ideas for solar panels, native plants and birdhouses would help green the image of this company, but "maybe we should clean up the dump first"! 

4 - Don't Make Them Walk The Plank
There must be room for trial and error. Developing new processes, repositioning strategies, and being willing to fail are important. Employees won't offer ideas for improvements or even be willing to try new things if management punishes those that don’t have it perfect the first time around.

I like to sit down with staff at various stages of a project and check in. I like to ask:
  • What works? 
  • What doesn't? 
  • Does it take more time, less time, same time? 
  • What support do you need to make this happen? 
  • And so on... 

Preventing chemical spills is a combination of complying with regulatory requirements, meetings industry best management practices, and taking feedback back about internal processes from employees. Here fertilizer was constantly spilling because of the location and the manner it was stored. 

5 - Land HOOOO!!!
Getting to the destination is not a magic trick. I've learned to communicate what it takes. I share what it took. I let staff grab the wheel and steer the ship.

I find that when I'm more transparent with how successful the program truly is, then employees are more inspired to contribute.

As time goes on it's important to re-evaluate your progress. How far have we really come? Should we revisit the problem? Have we indeed solved it or shifted it to some other area?


It takes an effort to change a company culture. The only way forward is when everyone is on the same page and supports the route chosen.

Contact me if you want to learn more about my process letsdothis@sjmconsults.com