About the Authors

David McNeil

David is the Director of Continuous Improvement, North America at Competitive Dynamics International (CDI), a consulting company with clients, past and present, in over 80 countries and more than 3,000 worksites. CDI is dedicated to implementing, sustaining, and growing continuous improvement initiatives world-wide. For over a decade, he has guided dozens of organizations in their quest for continuous improvement, employee engagement, and intentional culture change.

Jim McNeil

Jim is an organizational change specialist bringing four decades of hands-on experience to the work. He has provided assistance to organizations in the United States and Europe from the boardroom to the front lines. His clients include: corporations, non-profits, governmental agencies, and trade unions. Industry experience includes: service, manufacturing, health care, pharmaceutical, telecom and advanced technologies.

Why do some improvement initiatives blossom and grow and others wither and die?

Solving the Continuous Improvement Puzzle


To Continuous Improvement

The Five Keys Book



Over the course of a decade, while working with a client at two nearly identical “sister sites”, we experienced very different results. These manufacturing facilities were located in similar communities, produced the exact same product, with the exact same equipment and technology. They reported to the same corporate hierarchy, relied on the same internal support networks, and had the same suppliers and customers.


Given the similarities of these two sites, you would expect similar results – not exact, but similar. If only that were true… One site became the company’s North American model for continuous improvement, while the other site struggled with poor or mediocre performance, higher internal safety violations, and greater turnover. How could that be? Why were results so dissimilar? Why was it a joy to work at one site and a constant uphill challenge at the other? What were we missing?

Solving the Puzzle

As consultants for both locations, we continually pondered this dilemma, sharing our challenge with others in our consulting group. Collectively, our 20-year-old international consulting team has clients in 80 countries and have launched continuous improvement initiatives at over 3,000 different client sites. Each member in our group has experienced the joy and pride associated with great successes and suffered disappointment in lackluster results. We were determined to discover the reasons why!

The more we worked through this real-time challenge, the more we recognized the need to solve this puzzle. In doing so, we might discover the linchpin for many organizations embarking upon the improvement journey. We had to find the answer.


We decided to zero-in on identifying and standardizing the most critical aspects that buttress our most successful process-improvement initiatives. Regardless of the specific improvement an organization embarks upon, we found that combining certain behavioral science principles with five strategic components, which we refer to as The Five Keys, can transform a complacent culture into one committed to continuous improvement. In this book, we present our learnings to you, in a way, that enables you to implement them at your worksite.