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Are you putting off making the right improvement choice?

We're faced with choices every day, and many of those are related to the improvement of our how our business operates.

With each choice we hopefully are able to choose from a range of options, not just the choice of do nothing versus one alternative,

During the last week I have seen two different situations where the right choice was being avoided because it didn't seem to be viable at that point in time.


The right person for the job?

One situation revolved around the re-structuring of a business, to change the focus within the production function.

It was obvious how the line management arrangements should have been organised, but the team were favouring a different structure.

When I challenged them on this I received an answer about how although the best option was clear a different option would be easier to implement. The easier option was not the best!

Thankfully the team recognised that the easier to implement option wouldn't give them the results that they ultimately needed and that they could transition to the better option over a period of months. It didn't have to all happen today.

They were trying to avoid the correct choice for the sake of ease.


Can you measure that?

In a different situation I was working with a team who were trying to define some measurements which were to form part of the feedback for their daily production meeting.

We brainstormed a range of measurements, and whittled them down to an effective core of measures that would satisfy the purpose of the meeting and the needs of the business.

As soon as we had done this a couple of the group members started to eliminate more measures. I asked them what they were doing and they said 'we don't know how to measure that, so we're taking them out'.

They were the right measures, but the business hadn't yet worked out the mechanism to report on them.

Again it was the ease factor over making the right choice.

We had a conversation about what the business needed and agreed to work towards the full reporting over the next couple of months. We agreed to start with the core of the reporting and work towards having the finished article over the next ten weeks.


Easy versus right

That sums up the challenge that many of us face - doing the right thing versus doing the easy thing (that we can tick off the list today).

Even if you can't fulfil the entirety of the right choice on day one you can still do what you can do today and then move towards the complete solution.

Continuous improvement is about doing improvement work on a continuous basis (!), good things can take time and this shouldn't put you off going for the right decision if it is going to take a little time.

If you find yourself in a decision making mode over the next few weeks and you find team members trying to push you towards the quick fix take a step back. Consider the tug-of-war that is going on between easy and right and decide what you want for the business.

It will pay off in both the short and longer terms. Short term you will have better habits and longer term you will get the precise results that you want.


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 improvement toolkit.