We all claim to want to get and be better at what we do in many aspects of our lives.

We practice more, we try harder, we think of new ways to do things that save time and money or add features and fill gaps.

And then we move on to the next round of practice, the next harder try and the next new thing.

More often than we’d like to admit, we fall back into old habits, skip practice, take the easy way out and just do things the way we’ve always done them.

Then it’s back to practicing more, trying harder … and the cycle repeats itself. Looking back, it seems that there has been a flurry of activity, some spotty progress, but not as much as we would like to show for our efforts.

What is missing in this picture is taking the time to sustain the improvements by putting structures in place that prevent/reduce the backsliding.

Structures come in all shapes and sizes, and can be something as simple as a sticky-note as a reminder on your computer screen, or scheduling an appointment with yourself to block out time to work on something important. It can be conducting a lessons learned session with a team, and executing action plans that sustain those learnings. It can be as complex as writing a new task in a job description, including it in annual goals & objectives, measuring it and reporting on it in a performance evaluation and tying the results to the compensation plan.

A job well done includes doing those things that put in place the structures to insure the improvements are sustained over time. I hope you will take the time to put the extra step of continuous improvement into your everyday routines. If you do, look back over your shoulder six months from know and see how far you’ve come.