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A strong continuous improvement culture requires extensive teamwork, and teamwork requires strong relationships.

First of all, let’s start by defining what a relationship is. And its surface, a relationship is simply the way people or organizations behave toward each other. But there is also a deeper layer to relationships. They also include how the involved parties feel about each other. How a person regards someone greatly impacts the way they act.

Relationships are impacted by:

  • Direct interactions between people
  • Hearsay about people
  • Personal observations about third-party interactions
  • Reputation
  • Existing relationships (i.e. who you are closer to)
  • Groupthink

That list is by no means complete. The point you should take away is that relationships are complicated and are affected by numerous things. They take a great deal of attention to maintain.

So why are relationships important? Well, the more connected people are, the less overhead is required during interactions. That simply means that when people work well together they don’t need a great deal of explanation about why something should be done, and they don’t need as much convincing to do things that might not be squarely within a job description.

Continuous improvement efforts often require that sort of interaction. Work migrates back and forth between people and departments. Projects may require extra effort to collect data. Having people in your area with clipboards and stopwatches can be disconcerting. The better ongoing relationships are, the easier it is to do all the things that are required to build a strong continuous improvement culture.

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