Whether this question is posed by new clients, old clients, email subscribers or via my websites it doesn't matter.
At times we can all feel lost with our improvement projects.
Sometimes our improvement journey can feel like it is win after win; we witness the results we are wanting and the performance of our business moves in the right direction.
Other times our journey can feel like it is stuck and stalled. Conversations go wrong, improvements seem like a waste of time and we lose confidence (hopefully temporarily!).
This is the point of this blog post - this is entirely normal!
You have the ability to control the plan that you create. The outcomes are, unfortunately, not entirely up to you:
- A skillfully worded request could be mis-interpreted.
- A genius plan could be executed back to front because of staff mis-conceptions you hadn't known about before.
- The information that you based your decision on was mis-understood by the person compiling the data.
- Or, people just don't like the options you are presenting to them.
There are loads of ways that your improvement journey can go of course, and it is easy to get despondent about how the rate of change is shaping up.
There are, however, two things that you can do when this happens:
- You can look at the facts of the situation and, knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you can re-plan your approach (if that is required).
- You can acknowledge that if continuous improvement was easy then the changes would have happened already and you can decide to keep going!
I empathise with this conflict, taking place in our minds, as I have been through the same issue time and time again. There is probably no better example of this than when I was an Operations Manager running the manufacturing side of a factory that consistently delivered late and had a really long lead time (and an irate customer base!).
I could have left the company after a number of improvement projects had failed to deliver their results, but I resolved 'not on my watch!'
After a few months the signs of change were evident, but not without some difficult conversations, a lot of unhappy customers, and dis-gruntled peers in the process. A few months after this we were increasing our sales (based on our delivery performance), had a motivated workforce and a legion of happy customers.
If you find yourself in a similar predicament then you might find my short book 'On Time Delivery' to be useful; it covers the highs and lows of that particular journey. If you are feeling a little lost and deflated with your own on time delivery improvement journey then it might just give you a few more ideas that you can apply to your own business (or at worst make you feel that your own issues are not uncommon!).
I hope that if you are feeling a little lost with your improvement projects that you decide to keep your resolve and push forward with the refining of your improvement plans and efforts.
Also, don't forget to look back once in a while and see how far you have travelled!
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.