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'Winning Ugly' - the real art of continuous improvement?

I see a lot of frustration in businesses when it comes to implementing continuous improvement projects. I see it so much that it reminds me of a phrase I heard from a performance psychologist called Dr John Eliot. He was talking about the frustrations of performances not turning out exactly as planned and talked about the ability to 'win ugly'.

This phrase stuck in my head because it translates directly across to the world of continuous improvement. You come up with a game plan, you execute the plan and then review the results. Sometimes they are as predicted, other times they are better (and many times they are worse). At this point you can choose how you want to proceed. Some people get upset that the results weren't amazing and give up. Other people see the results for what they are, feedback, and then they choose to have another attempt.

If you're a regular reader of this blog then you will see this theme running through my posts; continuous improvement needs to be continuous - you've got to keep going in order to achieve meaningful results.

A really good example of 'winning ugly' is when you implement a new process (especially standard meetings) and the first attempt is awful when compared to the vision you had in your head. Instead of all of the pieces of the process fitting neatly into place at the right time the process falls over and looks a mess. If you keep going then enough practice will take place and you will achieve the slick new process that you want in your business. You usually have to go through the messy phase in order to get to the slick phase.

So, are you prepared to 'win ugly'?

Are you prepared to keep going with your new improvements when they aren't quite working out for your business?

Can you give people time to get the hang of new processes and stick with them so that they can make the new processes really work for your business?

Will you live with the short term state of imperfection in order to achieve your continuous improvement goals?

Great, then go to it.


Giles Johnston
...optimising MRP systems and re-engineering business processes

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Want more time for your projects? Try the 'Hour of Pain'!

Do you find your day being broken up by interruptions, stopping you from getting on with your work?

Continuous improvement projects often fall foul of this. The day can become so inefficient through the constant stopping and starting that we only just seem to have enough time to get the 'day job' completed.

I was in a meeting last week where this same issue cropped up. It also cropped up today. It's nothing new, but it is still a pain in the rear!

So, let me share with you an approach that has worked for my clients - the 'Hour of Pain!'.

Where there is a (performance) gap there is a concern

I had a really good day yesterday working with a client's team.

The team has issues. Plenty of issues. Some are managerial issues, some are people issues and some are production issues.

When I first met the team they didn't know what to do with their issues, so I started by helping them to see more issues.

Issues everywhere, they didn't seem very impressed.

And then we captured the issues as 'concerns' into the tried and tested 'concern cause countermeasure' format and followed the process:

Concerns probed for root causes and root causes converted into countermeasures.
Soon they realised that some of their root causes dealt with numerous concerns and they gained momentum.

Yesterday we pulled another one of their processes apart and identified all of the gaps. The gaps became concerns and we fed them back into the process. Now they have a practical action plan (of countermeasures) to upgrade the process in question.

What do you do with your performance gaps? …

Free Continuous Improvement Guide

I have recently published a new free guide, with the title:
Six Quick Tips to Help Continuous Improvement Deliver Results Faster In the guide I share how to:
Use the continuous improvement cycle properly.Get projects moving, if they are slow to start or have stalled.Identify the 'biggest bang for your buck' when reviewing opportunities.Determine the level of change you need to achieve through your improvements.Flip staff grumbles and concerns into positive improvement actions.Increase the overall rate of progress on your projects. All of the tips are highly practical and are no-cost strategies.
To get your copy, just click on the button below and access the guide in just a few moments from now.



Enjoy reading,

Giles
About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous i…