The paradox of looking for 'quick wins'

quick win operational performance

A number of years ago, Harvard Business School, together with a number of close industry associates, embarked on an ambitious and quite brilliant study of senior manager's behaviour following a career promotion.

The results were crystal clear about who created success and crucially how they did it.

Among the high-performing new leaders, one attribute always stood out: a strong focus on results.

In fact, most of them had managed to secure a “quick win” — a new and visible contribution to the success of the business made early in their tenure. Those who had achieved a quick win scored on average nearly 20% higher than those who hadn’t.

This in itself was a forceful but unsurprising finding; management experts often advise newly promoted executives to put points on the board fast.

A quick win is a crucial form of reassurance to the leaders’ bosses, who hope they have made the right promotion decision; also to team members deciding whether to place confidence in their new manager; and to peers trying to determine whether an equal has joined their ranks.

The findings became even more interesting when

patterns of behaviour amongst the

'struggling leaders' were examined.

In the lower performing group, a high incidence of five problematic behaviours were observed:

- focusing too much on details,

- reacting negatively to criticism,

- intimidating others,

- jumping to conclusions, and

- micromanaging the people reporting to them.

Looking over this list, it's easy to see the link between such behaviours and increasingly desperate leaders hell-bent on trying to secure quick wins.

Whilst without question, organisations who invest time and effort into developing a Lean culture are committed to building a robust, sustainable and operational team capable of continuously improving. That is the goal....however, quick wins are always a likely part of the Lean journey and to be encouraged.

Just not at the expense of those people around them and particularly not their own team!

Our experience will get you there.

Call us today on 0207 412 8995 or email us on

your questions about Lean and how it can help transform YOUR business.


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