If you're a CEO who thinks lean and Six Sigma can be left to the plant manager or a CI specialist simply to improve factory operations, think again. Evidence is piling up for the enterprise benefits of CI, from formal research and, more vividly, from the financial results of companies where the CEO "gets" the importance of these critical continuous-improvement strategies.

The most recent research, conducted at the close of 2011 exclusively for IndustryWeek and TBM Consulting, connects some of the dots for us. Results show that companies with mature CI programs outperform companies without CI programs on three financial metrics: anticipated revenue growth and operating-income growth and cash flow over the past year.

Hearing the story of a specific CEO of a company that's achieved verifiable results is even more eye-opening. If you haven't read senior editor Jill Jusko's interview with General Cable CEO Greg Kenny, you'll want to look it up. Among other results, Kenny credits the company's lean/Six Sigma efforts with powering the company's global growth from 18 factories in three countries to 47 factories in 25 countries.

Companies with mature CI programs outperform companies without CI programs on three financial metrics.

If you're like me, this information whets your appetite to learn more. That's why we've invited Kenny and another long-time lean practitioner, Mary Andringa, CEO of Vermeer Corp., to keynote our upcoming IndustryWeek Best Plants Conference, April 23 to 25, in Indianapolis. There you can hear first-hand and get details about how CEOs drive growth by aligning CI strategies with corporate goals.

Also at the conference, we're hosting, in partnership with TBM Consulting, a special roundtable at which Andringa will provide greater detail about how lean practices have powered Vermeer's growth and global expansion. She'll be joined by Greg Neothlich, Pactiv Corp.'s vice president of operations, who will demonstrate how to align improvement activities with strategy deployment to deliver measurable, sustainable results. In just one year, the company leveraged CI strategies to integrate acquisitions, growing revenue by 17% and increasing EBITDA by 38%.

Too many C-level executives still misunderstand how continuous-improvement strategies can drive growth. Make sure you're not one of them.

See also
Continuous Improvement: It Separates the Winners from the Losers
Focus. Discipline. Results.