Let me just start by saying that my friends at Chinatown make some of the best Chinese food in Austin. If you can get there for Dim Sum it’s worth the wait! The other day, after enjoying a delicious meal, I cracked open the obligatory fortune cookie.
My fortune for the day read, “Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.” I thought that was a great slogan for people involved in continuous improvement initiatives. I wondered of there was any more Kaizen wisdom to be found in fortune cookie slogans, so I did some Googling. It turns out that fortune cookies are full of great advice and thoughts for continuous improvement management.
“Change can hurt, but it creates a path to something better.”
This is something for continuous improvement managers to remind their teams when people resist change. It’s natural to want to cling to the familiar, and smart for managers to acknowledge the discomfort. That’s something that many leaders don’t talk about openly enough.
“You learn from your mistakes...You will learn a lot today.”
This one made me chuckle, but it is an important idea. Fear of failure is a leading cause of stagnation and clinging to the status quo. Smart managers help employees let go of this fear and embrace the idea of failing forward.
“In this life it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.”
Lean manufacturing and other business process methodologies are all about eliminating waste and introducing simplicity. Many opportunities for improvement start with letting something go.
“You will be rewarded for being a good listener in the next week.”
This is an especially important message for executives and other key leaders. Your employees likely know how to reduce costs, speed processes, and improve customer service. What you need more than anything is a good way to listen and capture their ideas.
“Teamwork: the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
Cross-functional teamwork is an essential component of any improvement effort. Continuous improvement management is geared toward creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This can only be accomplished through effective teamwork.
So next time you crack open your fortune cookie, see if it is trying to tell you something about your improvement initiatives. If so, we’d love to read about it in the comments.