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Are your improvements off course?

Do you feel that your continuous improvement plans are going off course?
Do you sometimes wonder if you are on the right track when it comes to making change?

If you feel that your improvement plans are going off course then don’t worry, join the rest of us who have to embrace this on a regular basis!

I’m a big fan of planning; coming up with a game plan that will take my clients from where they are to where they want to be. I’m also a realist and realise that the straight line path that I have devised is only a guide.
To get around this, and to keep me on track I keep the following ‘reality’ in my head during projects:

  • I plan for the simplest and most direct route possible.
  • I expect that when I start digging to find out what is going on I will follow ‘the real path’, which could possibly take me off into different areas of enquiry.
  • I know what the intention is for the change, so I can therefore keep correcting my course to ensure that at the end of every diversion I can swing back round to try and get back on track with my original planned path.

When I share this model with my clients, who are feeling frustrated with their wobbly project routes, they take great comfort in this view of the world.

Just yesterday I was thrown off course when a few unexpected factors were thrown into the conversation. We explored these other issues and then re-framed the conversation (back to the intention of the changes being considered) and were able to easily incorporate the outcomes into our original plan.
The project is stronger now and, ultimately, will be more effective thanks to the inclusion of the additional factors. Looking back to the planning stage these factors were invisible to the team at the start, but we took them in our stride.

The bigger the improvement you are trying to make, and the more people that are involved with the process under review, the more likely it is that you will be knocked off course on a regular basis.
If you are feeling this way and unsure what to do next, remember the intention of the improvement you are working on and use it like a compass to realign your efforts and use any new knowledge you have to gained to bolster your improvement plans.

Have fun getting 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.
Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

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