: A thing done with ease
: A secure grip
: A certainty to happen
: To make certain
: To fasten tight
Improvement work doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, the intent of the thinking and methods is to provide some sense of security and increase your certainty.
If continuous improvement is truly the way to healthy, sustainable culture change, why do we make it so complicated? Why are so few using the tools? And why are we so quick to leave it all behind in times of chaos or uncertainty? The same thinking and methods apply before, during, and after those critical moments in time.
Let’s discover a few ways to make your work and continuous improvement a CI-nch.
Use “Weekend" Language.
Don’t get caught up in business lingo and use those TLAs (three letter acronyms, or more) that others will never remember. To be inclusive, use common words, visuals, and stories that are easily remembered. Take a moment and try to explain the improvement methods you use at home and at work. Can you do it in 30 words or less? Does your pitch create passion and interest?
Design for Simple.
Typically, methods aren’t designed with simplicity in mind. In fact, most work or processes were never intentionally designed at all—nor are they usually repeated or repeatable. Work forms out of necessity. It is personalized first and only then do we finally discover ways to make it better. Consider this: the best time to look for and remove wasteful activity is before you actually experience it. Start simple.
One (CI) inch at a Time.
Remember continuous improvement is about making it better and making you better by taking seemingly small steps every day. In baseball, it is unrealistic to expect that you will hit a home run every time you are at the plate. So then why should you expect yourself and others to go the distance every time in your work? Success is won or lost on the practice field by those who do the value added work 1 swing (inch) at a time.
Define The Win.
I think we would all agree that winning is better than not winning. It’s been said if you don’t know where you are going you won’t know when you are there. By defining the win you make it easy for you and others to know if you are winning or losing at any given moment. Take a second and describe what the WIN looks like for you in 6 months. Once you know where and when, you can make the right adjustments to increase the pace towards the WIN.
Make it Fun.
If what you do isn’t motivating and rewarding, you won’t continue, at least for a very long time. Also, remember that what is fun for you isn’t necessarily fun for others. Let the team decide and own the creative design for their methods. Leverage the diversity of teams to drive innovation; you won’t be disappointed.
Get a Coach.
You can benefit by having someone in your court working with you toward the WIN. It isn’t just about providing accountability or advice. A coach will help you look in the mirror to uncover a reality you may have missed. A good coach will let you fail where you need to fail so that you can learn quicker. A great coach can make your ability to improve a CI-nch.
So, as you begin to consider how you might put continuous improvement into your life, remember to make it a CI-nch, keep it simple, and take those seemingly small steps one inch at a time.
About the Author:
Mike Wiersma is a Global Continuous Improvement Leader and Executive Coach as well as the Vice Chair of the Michigan Lean Consortium. Mike has over 16 years of experience in leading cultural transformations in both manufacturing and service organizations across the globe. With a proven track record in engineering, operations management and continuous improvement, Mike drives results with practical hands-on experience and effective leadership coaching. He's passionate about helping people and organizations build systems and structure that achieve best in class performance. Mike is married with 4 girls. He enjoys beaches, golf, travel and family time!