Valuing the small improvement

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 02-12-15

Small improvements matter.

Yet, organizations often de-value them because they are small. They don’t always do it intentionally. They may simple OVER-value the big improvements, through recognition and reward.

Here are three important reasons to value making small improvements:

1. It’s how you learn and build culture. Improvement is a muscle. Lots and lots of repetitions builds that muscle of improvement capability and culture. Small improvements are easy to get repetitions on that big ones.

Nails 22. All of your future big problems already exist today somewhere in the big pile of small improvements. See the “For the want of a nail” parable in the photo and the related linked blog post.

3. The ROI is ofter larger for small improvements. ROI = Return on (or over) Investment. Organizations say they try to maximize their ROI, but what they really do is try to find big “R”s and then see if they can justify the “I” to capture that return. But in the small improvements, the investment is often very small and the net ROI is higher.

In the related blog post, For The Want of a Nail: A Genius Approach to Continuous Improvement, our client Qorvo and partner KaiNexus connect to generate significant improvement by valuing the small and rapid improvements.

Here are some of the gains Qorvo experienced:


  • Almost 2,000 opportunities for improvement, identified by over 300 different employees. That’s an average of 6 ideas per person.
  • As of this post, 91% of those opportunities are completed
  • 93.5% of the completed opportunities resulted in a change
  • 755 ideas improved the quality of the organization and its products in some way
  • 216 ideas improved the safety of vendors and employees
  • 893 ideas improved the satisfaction of customers and employees
  • 837 resulted in over $7 million of financial impact