Independent Distributors Transforming the Playing Field


The planning and deployment of Continuous Improvement (CI) as a business strategy through the process of Visual Policy Deployment (VPD) assists the gases and welding distributor in establishing a clear strategic direction with aligned goals and objectives throughout the organization.(See “Linking Strategy and Continuous Improvement to Achieve Superior Performance,” CGI June 2011, pp. 40–42.) 

The importance of this alignment cannot be overstated. It provides the line of sight for all stakeholders and sets the foundation for the discipline, commitment, and collaboration necessary for implementation. Carrying these plans forward and sustaining them depends largely on how conducive the existing company culture is to CI. In this article, we discuss the importance of establishing a culture where continuous improvement is a way of life.

Culture Defined 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines culture as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” From a CI perspective, these shared characteristics reflect the beliefs and values of the organization’s leaders, and are seen in the attitudes of all employees. Culture is created by words, actions, and choices and an organization’s culture should articulate the fundamental reasons why it exists to those inside and outside the company.

Gases and welding distributors oftentimes find it difficult to articulate their culture and values as they tend to be made up of many segmented operations that function independently. This can lead to dysfunctional systems that are not aligned with the common goals and objectives of the organization. And dysfunctional systems can make or break the distributor’s efforts to improve performance.

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