Tips for Creating a Continuous Improvement Mindset

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The Shingo principle seek perfection is about challenging the status quo; always wanting to be better and do better. While perfection will never be obtained, the pursuit of perfection creates a mindset and culture of continuous improvement.

Over the years, I have seen many healthcare organizations who are striving to attain operational excellence by focusing on the Shingo Principles, and found they all have some behaviors in common in their pursuit of perfection.

Here are some tips for creating a continuous improvement mindset based off of what I’ve observed:

Celebrate Failures

A colleague of mine used to say, “problems are treasures.” That is the mentality you need to celebrate failures and red dots. They are treasures because they provide the opportunity to improve the standards and processes you have in place. When you seek perfection, no defect is acceptable.

When a problem occurs front line staff should not only be encouraged to bring it up, but they must be given an outlet to do so. Leaders must remember to not place blame but should foster a safe environment that encourages PDSA thinking.

Be Curious

Seeking perfection requires curiosity. It takes digging deeper to understand customer needs and constantly questioning the current state. When problems arise, it is important to seek to understand, to practice humble inquiry, and to not make assumptions. Curiosity is a necessary component to seeking perfection.

Encourage everyone in your organization to ask questions, look for data and apply scientific problem-solving.

Think Big

In a culture of continuous improvement, you think big. You push yourself to grow beyond a state which you can currently imagine. Think of the age-old saying, “Shoot for the moon because if you miss you will land among the starts.”

Thinking big should start with the senior leaders when developing strategy. Leaders should encourage ‘outside the box’ thinking when it comes to problem solving, experimentation, and designing a future state.

Be Patient

Remember that in seeking perfection the end goal is never really reached. This principle is about constantly improving each day and creating long-term solutions.

Seeking perfection is about constantly looking for opportunities to get better. It is helpful to set attainable goals and work diligently towards achieving them. When everyone is working together to achieve goals the continuous improvement mindset will spread.


Nicole Christensen, Events Manager


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