As anyone worth their mustard in continuous improvement will tell you, you need to start with defining a standard in order that you can clearly identify when you have deviated from that standard.
I read an interesting article a few months ago, which unfortunately I cannot find the link to, where the writer observed that in Toyota (because we all have to reference Toyota at some point, it’s the law) they have gone a step further. The “standard” in Toyota is actually the “desired state”. Interesting thought isn’t it…. Lets consider what this means, it means that our organisation constantly exists in a state of deviation. Obviously some deviations being more severe than others. However, it also means that every time we try to address a deviation we are not merely trying to restore to standard (although we are, if you get me) we are trying to achieve our desired state. Note that means for every deviation. Pretty cool huh? If we don’t get there, no problem, put it back into the improvement list and wait till it becomes a priority again.
I don’t know but I am guess that in order for such a “constant state of deviation” improvement system to work you would need to have a good control or feel for the priorities of the areas to work with. I would also assume that this would relate to the size of the deviation from the desired state standard.
I would be interested in your thoughts and also I will look for the article so I can link it here!