Have you ever watched someone or something and notice that it improved? There is a theory that supports that. It is called the Hawthorne Effect. It states “that the novelty of having research conducted and the increased attention from such could lead to temporary increases in productivity.” (wikipedia.com)
Nothing improves, unless it is measured. I cannot count the number of times that I have heard that. Though, majority of the time, once I began to inquiry against data, the problem magically became… well, less of a problem. I also heard a story by a couple of manager that I knew going into a department and camping out in the department asking questions. During the time they were on the floor communication via radio and engaging the crews the efficiency increased by 10%. In addition, it also supports why when the home department manager is gone for extended periods of time things change. Or, possibly, why when a substitute teacher is covering a classroom the students act different. The focuses are different.
The point is to make sure you are focusing on what you want to change. Actions, and words are two different things. Do not confuse effort with results. Now, on the same token, culture is not created using a cowboy effect. Do not ride into town, shoot everything up, and expect it to remain “fixed” when you leave. True change is the result of focus, effort, culture, and empowerment. However, you have to start somewhere and by focusing on an item that needs changed – you will get some results by just focusing on the details of the situation. The rest will come from building a team that understand why.