Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Continuous Improvement Success Comes in Cans!

As I drove between clients yesterday I caught part of a BBC Radio 4 programme. The programme's callers were speaking about how disability had suddenly changed their lives.

Listening to the courage and tenacity of the callers was inspiring. One caller in particular caught my attention.

She had been talking about all of the obstacles she had overcome as she tried to regain her independence. There had been a theme through the last few calls around not waiting for other people to hand 'things' on plates. She quoted her mother:

"Success comes in cans!"

She carried on by saying that so many people talk about all the reason that they can not do something rather than finding a way to do something. Her point was that the solutions are there, just the attitude needed to shift.

This resonated with me because of the work I am involved with. There are always a million reasons why something can not happen but it is the results that count.

Some people will find a way and other will not.

Some people will persist and others will give up.

Some people will achieve the performance objectives and others will become frustrated.

So, here's the question...

"How do we get a few more people to find ways to win than to give up?"

I'm not sure of a precise answer to this question but I do know a few ways that help:

  1. You can use small steps (Kaizen) to build confidence in your teams. Start with a smaller problem to overcome (or improvement to make) and let your team members find their feet.
  2. You can lead by example and show your team how to use persistence and creativity to find a way to win.
  3. You can keep your previous successes visible, so that your team don't forget that you have won in the past and that you can win again.
Find whatever works for your team, just find a way to move from 'can not' to 'can'.

And, try sharing with them the 'success comes in cans' motto.

Listening to stories of people overcoming life changing obstacles often puts our continuous improvement projects into context. So, don't sweat the improvement projects if you can't currently find solutions... if you keep going you will!


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.

C'mon! Just write the SOP!