Practice, practice, practice

Posted on okt 18, 2016 in Continu Verbeteren, English

practice-practice-practiceA habit of becoming a little better every day. A habit of who you might ask? Well, in an ideal world of everyone in your company, but since we just started let’s begin with step one.

Step one means looking for something that has high impact, while it is relatively low on the investment side. So, contrary to classic (if I may call it that) training programs you would start with the top 1-5% of the company. Yes, that’s right. You train management, not the workforce. Preferably top management. Now they are of course very busy and occupied, so the next best thing would be the managers reporting to them. Train them in asking the right questions to focus on the goals and encourage others to continuously improve towards those goals.

Just training them is not enough. In the sense that a training does not create a habit. Of course, they will learn what the right questions are. They will learn that a goal only makes sense if it is clearly intended to bring you closer to your vision. They will also learn that you start with one step and one step only towards that goal. That you learn from the experiment and then decide on a next step. All of that would be included in the training.

As a slight explanatory side step, think about some of your own habits. The things you do without really thinking about them. One of mine is that I use my left hand for using the mouse of my pc, while my natural preference is to use my right hand. At some point the right hand started to show signs of RSI, so I thought it would be a good idea to try it with the left hand. How stupid I felt for the first couple of days! Even the simpelst move and click action seemed impossible. But I hung in there. And today, I don’t care where the mouse is. I can handle it with precision with both hands.

What does this mean? It means that practice makes perfect. And it means that for asking the right questions, setting proper goals and so on to become a habit, it takes practice. Just as with switching hands, it will be a lot harder than you thought in the beginning. It is that moment you return to your desk after a training and you are high spirited, pick up your first goal and think “how the hell does all what I just learned apply to this?”. You will give it a try, most likely quite some tries, but as you get no feedback you will never really know if you are moving in the right direction. Soon it becomes discouraging and slowly you let go of it altogether.

So get your top management trained and supported on the job. That is when you will be going towards continuous improvement. When management starts to be very consistent in their behaviour and their questions, people who interact with them will pick up on that. They will copy the behaviour and the questions. Especially when you can (and should!) celebrate smaller and bigger successes. You might say that it becomes contagious and that is exactly how you achieve high impact with a relatively low investment.

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