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Most folks visit the dentist at least twice yearly for a checkup, see their Primary Care Physician for a physical and take their car in for an inspection. In addition, most of us get on the scales periodically to see if we are gaining weight, losing it or holding our own. We also get report cards that measure our kids’ progress in school. Our life is full of checks, rechecks and assessments that let us know if we are on track to reaching our goals, exceeding them, or- heaven forbid!– getting worse.

But do we do the same with our companies? Do we periodically assess our strengths and weaknesses? Do we periodically let others inside our facility to evaluate our organization?

When I worked in the corporate world, I sometimes had a hard time seeing my own organization with “outside eyes,” which made it hard to spot existing opportunities for improvement. (Example: An energy expert visited our facility and pointed out several opportunities where we could reduce energy costs, such as reducing the use of compressed air and replacing fluorescent lighting with more energy-efficient alternatives. Another time, a Lean expert made some modifications to our work flow, which enabled us to significantly increase our production. Both of these opportunities were overlooked by those of us within the organization.)

The point is, we are often too invested and too engaged to take the necessary step back from our work and impartially assess where we’re at in relation to where we’d like to be. Our involvement makes it difficult to spot our own shortcomings, let alone to turn those shortcomings into opportunities for improvement.

That’s why improvement specialists often recommend assessments as the first step in organizational improvement. The goal of assessments is to identify areas for improvement, determine the value of that improvement to the business, and outline action items that will lead to the desired change. The assessment and reporting process creates clarity around your current processes and practices and introduces a higher level of strategy to improvement efforts going forward.

The next time you make an appointment to get a checkup, remember to ask yourself this: Is it time for your company to get a checkup, too?