7 Habits of Highly Effective Projects - Habit #7: Relentlessly Improve

Continuous improvement is vital to every company’s success, regardless of size or market sector.

Once they’ve automated processes to improve collaboration, efficiency and productivity (habits outlined prior to #7), top owners use all the data gathered and sorted to identify bottlenecks and continually improve processes.

One of the most reliable ways to make sure your company is continuously improving is to apply Six Sigma’s DMAIC approach. DMAIC, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, is a data-driven improvement cycle used for improving, optimizing and stabilizing business processes and designs.

Here’s a summary of the five-step DMAIC approach:

  • Define the business problem, goal, potential resources, project scope and high-level project timeline.
  • Measure current process performance baselines and identify where you are compared to where you want to be.
  • Analyze, validate and prioritize select root problem causes identified in the measurement step.
  • Improve by identifying, testing and implementing a solution to the problem and create and deploy a detailed implementation plan.
  • Control or monitor the improvements to ensure continued and sustainable success.


The University of Southern California Capital Construction & Facilities Management Services group used the DMAIC approach to manage its rapidly growing capital construction program. The group adopted an integrated project controls system and realized impressive improvements. Project managers were able to triple their productivity—on average, they were each manually managing around $3 million. By relentlessly improving with a firm commitment to process enhancements, each project manager now manages on average over $10 million.

You can make comparable improvements as well with help from technology (see habit #3) and a focus on continuous improvement.

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