Skip to main content

'Winning Ugly' with Process Improvement

When we start out on our improvement projects, whether we are 'going lean' or for another reason, we sometimes find that our grand plan of how the improvement is going to progress differs from what we actually experience. An approach often referred to as 'winning ugly' (achieving the result, but possibly not in the way you first envisioned, is a nice way of putting it) is a good one to keep in mind when you are faced with projects (and even individual meetings within those projects!) that aren't going to plan.

An obvious point that I see on a regular basis is the amount of detail and planning that is put into the improvement project plans because of the fear of having to win ugly. Now, this is not to say that you should skimp on the details and start with a poorly thought out project, but the phrase 'fit for purpose' certainly comes to mind. Unnecessary polishing of project plans delays taking action. Get the plan fit for purpose and then start taking action.

As improvement projects encounter resistance from those participating, unforeseen problems and delays in decisions being made, it is worth remembering the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) approach and refine and develop as you go. Not only will this help you with your future projects but it will also help you with day to day negotiation of your current project as you attempt to realise the project's benefits. Winning ugly is all about adaptation when it is required.

Winning ugly is about rolling with the punches on an improvement project. If you have tools like PDCA and kaizen in your arsenal  then you will be far more flexible to reach the goals of your project.

  • People don't always respond the way that you hope they will. 
  • Ideas often don't quite work the way you hoped when you planned them. 
  • The status quo you had planned against often changes midway through project. 
Factors that can affect your project can change without warning, but if you keep the 'winning ugly' idea in your head, with flexibility, persistence and a little creativity, you can realise the benefits of your improvement projects more effectively.


Smartspeed Consulting Limited
Taking the frustration out of on time delivery.

Popular posts from this blog

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and

Where to start with Kaizen, if you just aren't sure

Kaizen is a great word. It is a word that can unleash the potential of both a business and an individual. Kaizen means more than just continuous improvement. It is a word that is linked to: Confidence Growth Exploration Courage Many people I speak to, that are new to improvement projects, aren't sure if they are on the right path when it comes to embracing the spirit of Kaizen. If you are also one of these people then let me share with you a few thoughts that can help you feel at ease about starting and leading change. Start with your concerns A great place to start your improvement life is with anything that isn't right. Getting your concerns out into the open really is the first step for most of us. If you aren't happy with something, raise it. This isn't only a great place to start, but something that you shouldn't give up. Whenever a standard is not being met, or not even defined, get vocal and then do something about it. Start small The intention of Kaizen is

Stimulating Kaizen opportunities - the 'mechanical' way!

I often end up in conversations about how to stimulate Kaizen ideas and opportunities. If you have read my other posts, you will know that I split the improvement journey into two halves. For many people, the initial Kaizen focus is all around fixing things that are wrong / not working properly. Once you get past this point you need something else to focus and motivate you to generate improvement opportunities. The two halves of the Kaizen journey The discussion that I often end up in, is the one around the imagination quandary. People talk to me about not being creative, or not being inspired to come up with improvement ideas. Do you ever feel this way? It seems that there is a popular view that some people are creative and some aren't. Great Kaizen ideas are not just the product of 'creative' people. There are lots of ways that you can generate improvement ideas without having to sit on a mountain top cross legged waiting for inspiration. Finding a 'mechanical' w