While on vacation at a resort last week we noticed a unique looking individual having unfettered access to the dining room and the kitchen areas.

We commented that he looked like he was doing official duties, but that his dress and grooming was anything but official-looking.

A couple of days later on a snorkeling excursion he was with us.

During our morning trip we engaged in a brief conversation learning that he was on site consulting with the resort to help them improve their operation. He was evaluating the resort’s approach to its dining service, kitchen functionality, and assessing its menu for updating.

This resort was one of the best my wife and I have stayed at in Central America in recent years. We didn’t see a need for much improvement in service or their menu offerings.

Yet, this resort was applying what one of my former business colleagues called, AGB, which stands for Always Getting Better.

Only a small percentage of business organizations truly practice AGB, something peak performance guru Anthony Robbins has termed “Constant and Never Ending Improvement” and the Japanese manufacturing industry calls “Kaizen.”

In my experience most organizations just dabble in it, they think they’re practicing it. Yet, most continue to do the same things over and over again just thinking they’re getting better through experience.

To do it right, it has to be an organizational commitment at all times, through both good and bad economies and financial performing years.

Interestingly, in trying to work with organizations to incorporate operational improvement initiatives, many have excuses whether they’re having a good year or a bad year.

If they’ve had a poor financial year, the financial resources are rarely available for investing to improve their operation.

If they’ve had a good year, most organizational leaders fail to see a need to invest in an operation already performing well.

Yet, champions become champions because they practice the strategies of AGB.

When I was leading my last professional baseball team between 1994 through 2001, we started the franchise from scratch. The success we enjoyed right out of the gate was surprising and overwhelming.

At the end of that first season I decided we were going to practice AGB. The process included two specific initiatives.

First, we hired a consultant to facilitate focus groups to secure independent feedback from three different levels of ticket purchases; season tickets holders, mini-pack purchasers and fans that purchased individual game tickets. We did the same with sponsors and ballpark advertisers.

Secondly, we shutdown our office within a few weeks of the close of our season and required all department heads to evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of their contribution to our season’s success and to recommend improvements for the next year.

Whether you hire an outside consultant to help you glean independent feedback from your customers, or have internal resources identify and suggest areas for improvement, or a combination of both, an AGB process should be planned for and scheduled every year.

What’s the best time of year for your business?