Improvement in focus: Initial results from our research

Every year, organizations invest hundreds of millions, if not billions, in optimizing their operations.
These efforts vary widely; from launching small-scale lean or agile projects to developing sophisticated governance structures that ensure continuous quality improvement. The pursuit of “continuous improvement” drives organizations to take their processes and operations to the next level of maturity. However, the degree of progress and success in these efforts often remains a mystery to outsiders and experts in the field of improvement. Therefore, we at Symbol conducted a survey to gain more insight into the state of continuous improvement in the Netherlands.
Below we discuss the initial results.



Understanding organizational development

Symbol’s research sheds light on the ways organizations approach the implementation of Continuous Improvement. Using the Continuous Improvement Maturity Model (CIMM), Symbol assesses the maturity of organizations in implementing and embedding change, analyzing both processes and organizational and employee behavior. For this study, Symbol employed a condensed version of the CIMM model in a recently conducted survey, resulting in a significant number of useful responses.


Experienced Interim Managers and Young Professionals Symbol

5 observations


Multiple simultaneous reasons for starting Continuous Improvement

In all sectors and regardless of the size of the organization, Continuous Improvement is used to address a multitude of problems simultaneously. This demonstrates the versatility of Continuous Improvement, but also opens the door to ambiguity around goals and deliverables.


No statistical difference in maturity level

There is no statically relevant difference between the maturity of Continuous Improvement practices regardless of the sectors , size of the organizations or the component examined (“a solid foundation,” “stable and predictable processes,” “Problem Solving,” and “Future Resilience.

long-term planning

Planning and long-term vision crucial to securing Continuous Improvement

Having a plan of action coupled with involvement of both the board and line managers is described as critical by most organizations for the successful assurance of continuous improvement.

long-term planning obstacle

Planning and long-term vision biggest obstacle to securing Continuous Improvement

Except in “high-tech” and “transportation, trade and logistics,” all sectors see the lack of a plan and long-term vision as the biggest obstacle to securing Continuous Improvement. The reason why this is so when it is also seen as crucial for drilling was not explored in the Survey.

priority basic elements

Priority is given to basic elements rather than advanced topics

Except in “high-tech” and “Construction,” all sectors next year are prioritizing basic elements of Continuous Improvement such as stand-up meetings, order and cleanliness and standardization.

3 golden tips from Symbol

Based on the survey results, all respondents seem to have a foundation in the area of Continuous Improvement.
This base can be further strengthened. Symbol’s three golden tips for reinforcing Continuous Improvement are:


Link the commitment to Continuous Improvement to strategic improvement goals.

Help executives see the impact of their decisions on day-to-day operations.

Make it fun, create small successes that can be celebrated and involve colleagues.


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