Existing is not enough if you want to be great at anything. People tend to flock to things that are of high quality. The only way to get there is through continuous quality improvement.

Gone are the days of sitting around and assuming that you're getting better just because you're alive. Just because you added another year to your age does not mean you have done anything intentional to improve. We are going to change this going forward!

"There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction." - John F. Kennedy

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What is Continuous Quality Improvement?  

Continuous quality improvement (CQI) is a management philosophy that emphasizes reducing waste, increasing productivity, and improving customer and employee satisfaction. It continually is analyzing how a group works together and how they can improve.

The great thing about continuous quality improvement is that you can apply it to your personal life. It's used to measure teams in the workplace setting, but you can always look in the mirror to see if you're doing what it takes to get better.

Continuous quality improvement focuses on tiny improvements each day. It never wants to see such a massive change that it requires a large adjustment from everyone. Massive changes reduce efficiency too much in the short run, even if things turn out for the best in the long run.

What companies and people alike typically do is set as large and unrealistic of a goal. Everyone wants to try and speak it into existence. The problem with the focus on broad goals is that you focus on success in the distant future, but you often let the days and pennies slip through your fingers. 

All forms of continuous quality improvement are often rejected because it's not flashy. It's often redundant, and it demands people be consistent over a long period. Nothing comes easy and fast.

Continuous quality improvement focuses on tiny improvements each day. It never wants to see such a massive change that it requires a large adjustment from everyone. 

How Does Continuous Quality Improvement Work?  

Let's be honest for a second; why does anyone or team give up on change? Because we don't think it's making a difference. If we can't see results, the assumption is that nothing is happening. 

Please think of how many people probably give up on their bamboo trees. The bamboo tree is known to do nothing for many years after its planet. The reason is that the tree is growing a large and robust root system to support a large tree. Seemingly overnight, it seems like the tree springs up.

Continuous quality improvement works a lot like the bamboo tree. It seems boring only because the growth is happening below the ground, where most people cannot see it. 

They become to get as much as 1% better each day. No one notices one point each day or even after a week, but it can make a huge difference in a month.

Focus On The Long-Game 

The only way you reap the benefits of CQI is if you focus on getting better in small increments over a long period. If you focus on the short-term, you will likely give up because nothing changes in front of your eyes. 

Stick with it for a year straight, though, and you will begin to notice huge differences. The gap is large, and people will often look at you and wonder how you got so great overnight. This happens all of the time, but people don't see the bamboo roots working to grow underground. 

Each time your teams find a way to get a little bit better, it adds up. The same is true form continuous improvement in your personal life. 


Continuous quality improvement works a lot like the bamboo tree. It seems boring only because the growth is happening below the ground, where most people cannot see it. 

Steps to Get The Most From Continuous Quality Improvement

Building a team and personal culture of continuous quality improvement is simple but not easy. You need to follow only three simple steps, but it's often easier said than done. 

Step 1: Double Down On What Works

  • Find what is already doing you well 
  • Find ways to do more of what is already working
  • Focus on being consistent with what already works
  • Highlight what is boring but works well 
  • Ask if you want to be new or if you want to be successful? 
  • You don't need to learn or do anything different 
  • All you need is doing more of the things that produce favorable results 

Step 2: Reduce Risk and Mistakes 

  • It's easier to focus on cutting out dumb mistakes than it is to improve 
  • Your goal each day needs to be to do fewer things wrong 
  • Find ways to merely any processes that slow down efficiency 
  • Remove everything from your life that is no 100% essential 
  • if you work out, for example, you can miss less training sessions
  • A publishing team can produce fewer grammar errors 
  • The PR team can put out less controversial press releases 
  • Get rid of the downside that you can manage and deal with 

Step 3: Work Backwards 

  • Stop trying to predict the future
  • Don't look at where you are to your future goals 
  • Look backward and analyze what you have already done 
  • Make decisions based on what has already occurred 
  • Focus on doing more push-ups this week compared to last week 
  • Focus on making $100 more this week than you did last week 
  • Focus on introducing yourself to 2 more people than you did last week 

The Downsides of Continuous Quality Improvement 

Continuous quality improvement can be excellent for the life of any team or individual. That does not mean that CQI is exempt from causing any issues. Here are some of the downfalls you need to look out for. 

You Lose Track of Your Why 

When you are locked in on your day to day improvements and making sure that you don't make mistakes, it can start to feel pointless. It's a lot of work and attention to detail, but what is it all for? 

It would help if you did everything in your power to hold on to your why. Know what your goals are, and understand your life mission. Your mission should motivate you to get out of bed each morning. 

The Result Are Guaranteed

Focusing on CQI improves your chances of success, but it does not guarantee. There is no point looking for the one guru or the secret that no one else knows. You have to put in the work and increases your chances as much as you can. 

When you fixate on a guaranteed result, you go back to being goal-oriented. You only care about the future, and you let the daily details slip out of view. 

Life Can Seem Robotic 

Depending on your personality, this last point may be the hardest. When you're focused on the boring and mundane each day and doing it just a little bit better, life can feel robotic. 

All of the fun and exhilaration you get from changing things up or trying new items will be gone. It will feel like life is the same old every day. Even if you're making progress, this can still make you want to quit. 

It would help if you did everything in your power to hold on to your why. Know what your goals are, and understand your life mission. Your mission should motivate you to get out of bed each morning. 

Essential Readings To Make Sure You Keep Improving 

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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