The Utah Department of Transportation has an audacious goal. Zero fatalities. According to its website, “Zero Fatalities is all about eliminating fatalities on our roadways. Some people may think zero is an impossible goal, but when it comes to your life or the lives of your friends and family, what other number would be acceptable?”
Has the department reached its goal? No. There have been 82 traffic fatalities in Utah this year as of writing this. Does that mean they should revise the target for the second half of the year? Maybe the goal should be to cut fatalities by 10%? Of course not, that would be absurd. Zero remains the only reasonable goal.
While your organization may not be involved in life or death matters, the quest for zero may still be relevant. Zero defects, zero safety incidents, zero rework, zero waste, zero customer complaints: these all may seem like impossible goals. But how many defects, accidents, do-overs, or angry customers are ok? Zero.
The State of Utah didn’t just set a lofty goal. They have a three-step approach to getting there. While the framework is simple, it is a great way to think about improving any outcome. They call it “The Three E’s of Emphasis.”