Skip to main content

'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

Popular posts from this blog

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

Kaizen projects: being honest about being off track

Projects, especially improvement projects, have a tendency to get off track. There is often a clear distinction between projects for customers and projects for ourselves. If our improvement projects fall behind then our customers won't be barking at us; it is no wonder that if something is going to slip it is our Kaizen endeavours. For some people this can be a tough conversation to have. No one wants to be a 'failure' and pride often gets in the way. In my experience it seems that it is believed to be far more credible to ignore the requirement to improve than to admit that we aren't making progress. So, if you find yourself (and your business) in this situation, what can you do about it? Let me share with you two options to increase the visibility in your business around progress with projects and four options to help get your projects back on track. Increasing visibility Ok, no more hiding the status of Kaizen activities . This also means no more being precious about

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