Senior leader commitment to continuous process improvement: An exploratory study of a military organization




Hamm, Robert E., Jr.

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DEStech Publications, Inc.


Research indicates leadership commitment is an essential ingredient in the successful implementation of continuous process improvement in organizations. The purpose of this qualitative research was to gain a better understanding of the factors that compel senior leaders within organizations to initially consider continuous process improvement, commit to continuous process improvement, and sustain commitment to continuous process improvement. In-depth interviews with senior leaders within a department of the Department of Defense (DoD) were used to investigate the experiences, perceptions, and insights of senior leaders with respect to commitment to continuous improvement. Confirming previous research findings, participants in this study indicated that senior leader commitment is essential if an organization is to enjoy the benefits of continuous process improvement. Participants revealed that continuous process improvement was good for the organization and worth the effort expended. Meaningful results that lead to improved efficiency and effectiveness have a strong influence on a senior leader's willingness to commit to and sustain continuous process improvement. Participants indicated they were committed to continuous process improvement but noted that continuous process improvement can be an administrative burden. Participants asserted that credibility is critical when demonstrating their commitment to other members of the organization. Participants opined that top management must be willing to empower senior leaders to implement challenging or risky solutions. The primary contribution of this research is a better understanding of how senior leaders make the decision to commit to continuous improvement efforts in organizations. With this understanding, top leadership as well as continuous improvement managers can gain and sustain the commitment of senior leaders so vital to the success of continuous process improvement in any organization.


Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Flexible Automation & Intelligent Manufacturing, held May 20-23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, and organized by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Lean Systems, University of Texas at San Antonio
Includes bibliographical references


Leadership--United States, Total quality management, Military planning, United States Department of Defense, Organizational change--Management