For Leaders: 5 Reasons Why Both Continuous Improvement and Sleep Are Deeply Underrated

We know both sleep and process enhancement are good things to do, but why do we often lose focus on these key fundamentals?

By Rick Ferraro

Both needs cannot be ignored. If you do, bad things can happen. If you get too little sleep, over time personal performance can suffer, or you even get sick. If your organization does not maintain its processes, it can make small but costly mistakes or underperform so that the whole organization suffers.

Like respected fellow SMA Advisor Gen. Anthony Rock said, urgent interests often overtake important ones.

Here is a table that compares many aspects of these two activities. It rests on the notion that continuous improvement in an organization is analogous to sleep for human performance. After that, I pose a question for leaders to consider.

Dimension Sleep Continuous Improvement
Motivation A person wakes up fresh and more motivated When Associates have an input and they see how they are able to help the organization perform better, they will be more interested and engaged
Resource utilization Sleep lets the full brain do its job Regular evaluations and improvements tap the full person—drawing on people’s full capacity
Agility and responsiveness Adequate amounts of sleep lead to better mood, flexibility, and ability to adapt An organization experienced at implementing improvements continuously will be more able to adjust, accelerating performance
Financial performance Better sleepers earn more (it’s true, Google it) Process-driven companies grow revenue faster and have higher profitability
Compounding over time Good sleep habits lead to higher mental functioning if habits are sustained Repeated process improvements can be stacked so that value is compounded over time—an effect so significant that it can swing the numbers of a multi-year business from mediocre to robust

So, two points are clear:

  1. That sleep is underrated since it provides humans with such restorative power, renewed energy, and clear mind yet many people skimp on sleep as if there were no consequences
  2. That continuous improvement can drive organizational advancement yet it often drops by the wayside in periods of strategic or rapid change, so it too, is underrated as a management tool

We are in a time of unusually high rate of change and adaptation. Ways of doing work will be more remote and digital but are still a long way from an optimum steady state. Across many activities, the baseline of our work has changed. All will benefit from structured scrutiny to optimize under the new normal of physical distancing or touchless automation. Or there is the opportunity to ask how your reopened organization be better one than it was when it was locked down.

So if you as a leader are willing to devote a third of your life to sleep each night to keep moving forward, but not 5–10% of your working life to guiding your organization to get better at its daily work, what does that say about you as a leader?

You are going to evaluated on how you adapted to these new times, so why not make that modest investment now so that your organization continues to perform even better, either as we start to settle into the next normal, or face the next wave of disruption?

If you’re building a team and you have positions you can’t fill, you need to use SMA Talent on Demand (TOD®)! With TOD®, you can find experienced talent, such as Rick, matched to your exact needs:

Published on June 8, 2020 by

Dick Eassom, CF APMP Fellow