Increasingly organizations implement process improvement efforts aimed at increasing revenue and/or decreasing cost. While some efforts lead to success (Honeywell, Seagate e.g. Huber and Launsby, 2002), others lead to failure. For instance, Home Depot implemented Six Sigma and their American Customer Satisfaction Index ranking dropped from a top spot to the bottom of their industry. Initially profitability soared at Home Depot, but then their stock price plummeted. Home Depot was able to cut costs with Six Sigma, but the energy and emphasis placed on these efforts at cost containment ultimately lead them to lose focus on the customer (thus threatening their underlying revenue stream).
Our research investigates how organization approach decisions to direct their improvement efforts toward either revenue improvement or cost reduction. We examine this by considering the perspectives that individual managers have regarding the operational and performance dynamics that follow these changes at their firms. Our study leverages a multi-stage survey and interview protocol approach, uniquely leveraging system dynamics simulation as a critical component of the interview process. The surveys provide a foundation for assessing the broad of perceptions held by managers, while the interview provides an iterative mechanism for critical analysis, model calibration and case development. As a result we are able to triangulate areas where certain fateful perceptions regarding organizational dynamics in the face of change and resource tradeoffs exists, as well as areas where more in depth consideration tends to provide clarifying adjustments to managerial perceptions regarding those dynamics.