An organization, like an athlete, can shorten its learning curve and improve its ability to perform if it uses a solid, proven methodology rather than following "gut feelings." Most coaches strive to get consistency from their teams/athletes, and process improvement methods in business such as Six Sigma work towards the same. Jack Welch, in his executive role at GE, championed the use of Six Sigma throughout the organization and its levels of leadership to position GE where it is today. Other major competitors at the time did not have such champions to set "the tone at the top" where assessment for the purpose of improvement is concerned and, instead, only embraced process improvement methods halfheartedly or, worse, ignored them completely.
Those leaders who do not embrace, cultivate, and develop solid improvement methodologies, such as Six Sigma, tend to follow the paths of trial and error, yielding the painful learning of lessons and a much longer time-frame to achieve any modicum of improvement, if they survive at all. The top leaders, coaches and athletes all know achieving long-term consistent improvement requires focus and dedication to a well-developed and solid methodology. Those willing to accept lower standards and less-developed methods may achieve some success initially, but those successes often turn out to be short-lived and achieve much less than desired in the long-term.
One of the greatest difficulties a leader will face with any improvement method is looking at the benefit of the whole and not just the individual parts. While an athlete has to constantly struggle with various body parts aching, complaining and pushing back against the additional work and effort required to improve, a leader must look at the success of the whole organization and monitor the additional effort required of various parts as they affect the whole. Being able to focus on those areas, giving them the attention and support needed to push them harder while improving towards the overall objective, will demand that the leader step up and continue to champion the need for the process, despite the aches and pains. In such a process seeking improvement, the methodology will require a leader truly lead and not just make demands if the initial aches and pains are to become an improved organization rather than a broken one.
Leaders who strive to improve are always looking and reviewing, seeking a clear vision of whether they are doing the best they can and getting the most out of their resources in both themselves and their groups. Any organization is built upon myriad processes, all being carried out in an orchestrated manner at any moment. Using solid data to measure how well these processes are working and achieving their goals in a consistent manner is required in order to compete effectively and in an efficient manner. Solid methodologies, such as Six Sigma, which are used to assess, measure and improve these processes are the very tools high-end leaders embrace, champion and utilize to make their organizations not only survive but thrive in almost any economy.