Good, Better, Best…And Then?

By Becky Ferrell


Good, better, best. You remember that saying from elementary school? Well, you do if you have sufficient “life experience.”  (Please note: I didn’t say “you’re old enough.”)  But, in case you missed it:


Good, better, best. Never let it rest, ‘til your good is better and your better is best.


Back then, we probably didn’t know the origin of the quote or simply don’t remember the source, but I’ll give it here: St. Jerome.

So, what does this quote mean for manufacturing organizations? Supply Chain? Quality? Other functions? Clearly, we should be striving to attain “best.”  But, once we stand on top of that mountain of “Best”, what then? History has shown the entity standing on top of that mountain now has a massive bullseye on their back; they literally have created a target for all others in their function or industry. Once we know who the “lead dog” is, the objective should be to not only learn from them, but to surpass them.


HVM Mountaintop


And you, standing on that peak, enjoying the view and basking in your achievement. What should your action plan be if you don’t want your stay there to be momentary?

A very wise man once said, “Keeping things status quo just because they aren’t broken is how you get leap-frogged over.” – Tom Bohn, ACG CEO.


Continuous Improvement

Like the view from the top?  Want to keep it? Then the challenge for you and your entire organization, is to not only understand, but to embrace the reality behind the concept of “continuous improvement.”

“Continuous improvement?! But, I’m already BENCHMARK!  The BEST!!!  I want to open a cold one, kick my feet up, and enjoy the view!”

Yep, and that attitude will ensure your stay on top of that mountain is a short one.

As a manufacturing organization or one of its support functions, you must have KPIs that you’ve leveraged to achieve this level of performance.  Take a moment to celebrate your success. BUT, you need to understand that NOW is the time to dissect each of your KPIs to see which can be further leveraged for even more improvement.


Need an example?  OK…

Schedule performance.  Using your KPI to measure progress and implement necessary improvements, you’ve attained and sustained (right???) 100% compliance to your facility’s weekly schedule. Great! Now, break that schedule into daily buckets, and with the same target of 100% compliance create a new KPI. What do you think will happen? In most facilities, this sort of change will lead to a performance degradation until the organization learns how to master this new KPI. Conquered the weekly? Break it into shift buckets. Conquered shift? You got it…break it into hourly buckets.  Hitting the hourly numbers? Well, how about schedule compliance by time period by part number, so it’s not just hitting the numbers but a specific product mix within those numbers…?

As you work through this, there may be other KPIs that need to evolve or change to support your CI goal for schedule performance. EMBRACE those changes!  And THAT may be your biggest challenge. Organizations have inertia…and like it to some extent.  Change means constantly evolving and constantly challenging the status quo…literally being on a journey that never ends.


A Learning Organization

One of your most critical goals MUST be to develop and sustain a learning organization that embraces continuous improvement. One that is hungry to improve…

  • Shorten lead times.
  • Improve up-time.
  • Shorten change-overs.
  • Identify and reduce unnecessary inventory.
  • Offer not just on-time delivery, but early delivery.
  • Not just meet customer expectations, but exceed them!

That takes work and a lot of it.  It takes enthusiasm and a never-ending “tone at the top” to reinforce the idea there is no “best” to rest on, but one to surpass and continue to do so.

The reality?  To stay on top means you must continuously improve, never accept status quo, be willing to change / tighten KPIs that you’ve achieved, and always be committed to ensuring your journey doesn’t have an end point, but rather a series of checkpoints or milestones.

Those footsteps you’re hearing… it’s your competition, waiting for you to rest just a second too long to enjoy the view!

Good. Better. Best…. Never let it rest. Keep continuously improving!


Not sure where to go from here?  Perhaps a fresh set of eyes or new perspective is needed.  HVM has floor-experienced manufacturing and supply chain professionals ready to help find that next improvement to help you continue your journey to “best” and beyond.  Give us a call; we’d love to help! 


Did you enjoy this blog? Search our blog library for other topics of interest: