I’m a continuous improver AND a beauty pageant winner (and loser). I cannot ignore the parallels between two of my favorite things – making ugly processes better and walking on-stage in 5″ high heels and a swimsuit. Stay with me here….

Lesson 1 > Butt Glue: Making it Stick

The months leading up to a beauty pageant are intense. You hit the gym nearly every day and stick to a nutrition plan that does NOT include chocolate chip cookie dough, chips & salsa or red wine (also known as my favorite foods). You wear those 5″ heels while doing all of your daily household chores like putting away laundry and vacuuming. Seriously. You practice your walk and posing in front of mirrors. 

By pageant day, you have already done the hard work. You are practically on auto-pilot when you walk onto the stage. So the absolute last thing you do before hitting the stage in the fitness competition is glue your swimsuit to your backside. Yep, we all do it…with roll-on toupee glue. After months of preparation, the absolute last thing you want to have happen is a wardrobe malfunction.

If you want sustainable continuous improvement culture, you need to sustain your project gains.

The same goes for continuous improvement projects. You’ve spent months growing your team and improving a process. You’ve tested, evaluated and measured all of the alternatives. On implementation day, you want to “make it stick” (pun intended). If you want a sustainable continuous improvement culture, you need to sustain your project gains.

A project sustainment plan is often neglected. Toward the end of the project, the team is often exhausted. But if a sustainment plan is not created, then you run a high risk of undoing all of the efforts you have invested over the past weeks and months. 

The Lesson? Don’t ignore your Sustainment Plan. Months of hard work can be flushed down the drain if you walk away from your project (and onto the stage) too soon. Before you Go Live, ask yourself “How will I sustain the gains?” and “How do I ensure that the process doesn’t revert back to the way it was before?” Create a plan that includes metrics to mesaure on a regular basis so you can respond quickly and head off any major challenges.

Need help with a sustainment plan? Join our CII Membership to take our course and download the sustainment template.

2008 Mrs. America Pageant
Where’s the author? Third from the right!

Ready for more pageant secrets? Choose your own adventure! Go to Lesson 2: HERE. Or just skip to Lesson 3: HERE.

Author: Allison Greco

Author: Allison Greco

Founder, CII

I created my foundation with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and MBA from the University of Oklahoma. Over the past decade, I have held Continuous and Process Improvement roles for Black Hills Energy, Williams, the US Air Force and BNSF Railway. I’ve started new CI programs and reinvigorated stale ones. Along the way I earned a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and became a licensed Professional Engineer.