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Minimisation... the opposite of continuous improvement

A number of years ago I used to have a voluntary role with my local Youth Offending Team.

It was a very rewarding use of my time as I got to see young people make constructive changes in their lives.

There was an interesting phrase that I picked up during my time there, 'minimisation'.

Its effect is prevalent in businesses that aren't getting ahead with their improvement goals too.

Minimisation is where you play something down.

In the case of the young offenders, they would say that the crime they had committed was OK and therefore not a big deal.

They used to also minimise the importance of what had happened / who they spend their time with / their attendance at school / their respect for their parents etc... I'm sure that you get the point.

In businesses, where the performance is not where it needs to be, it can be easy to minimise the situation:

  • Our suppliers will never deliver to us on time.
  • That's just us, we never start a meeting when we say we will.
  • It's our customer's job to mess us around!
  • Those kinds of problems always happen to a business like ours.
  • You don't understand - this industry is like that.
And, my all time favourite:
  • Ah, yes, but our business is different...
If your business needs to improve, but just isn't getting there, it might be worth listening out for this kind of talk and challenge it.

If there are facts that support these beliefs as being true that's one thing. But, if it is perception (and past experience doesn't necessarily dictate future results) then it is worth discussing what is true for your business.

Minimisation really is a route to kill your continuous improvement aspiration.

Good luck with changing perceptions in your business,

Giles




Giles Johnston
Author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' online course for improving continuous improvement skills.