Time to end this mini-series with five pitfalls that I have written about in four previous weekly newsletters. The five pitfalls come from a lecture given by Henrik Eriksson, a researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, at Kommek in August. He listed five pitfalls that you need to avoid if you want your business to succeed, and I take them on board and add my experience:
- Not being driven by need and purpose
- Not having value-creating processes and networks
- Not leading
- Not being motivated
- Not to improve
So it was time for number five.
Not to improve
What if what has been is always. At first glance, this may sound safe and good. It’s just that the world is changing all the time. The world is in constant motion. If you don’t keep up, you will get worse.
If you were the best, after a while you will just be good, but if you continue to do nothing, you won’t even be good, you will be bad. And if you are bad, then you will no longer have any justification in the business you are in, whether private or public.
If you don’t want it, it won’t be
So how do you develop? There are several steps to go through to make your improvement. I’ve mentioned some of them in previous newsletters, and will also be holding the webinar Five Tips for Successful Change Management on 11 October where I’ll go into more depth on each point.
One of the basic necessary elements is that there needs to be a willingness to evolve. Without the will, there is nothing. Willpower can come from many different sources, but a key driver is that you see the need to evolve. This is what is known as a sense of urgency, i.e. the awareness that you have to evolve or something will happen that you don’t want to happen at all, and that is urgent.
This is the first step highlighted by Professor John Kotter in his eight steps for change management. Without that sense of urgency and importance, we put it off and wait until later.
If you don’t understand the problem and then see the need, but put it off again and again, then it will soon be too late. Because the changing world and the changing and increasing demands on your business are not waiting for you and you to make decisions to improve.
So it’s better to stay ahead of the game at all times and keep your “ear to the rail” to find out what’s going to happen.
Big or small?
Another consideration many people talk about is whether it’s better to have the big project that tackles fundamental improvement, or whether to work with the small stuff instead.
My answer is; both.
If you haven’t done a major effort to lift your business in a long time, you’re probably behind. This means that there are major needs right across the business. Then you need to form an improvement initiative and, based on that, drive your improvement work in a goal-oriented way.
Regardless of the above, you always need to work on the small improvements. You can always ask yourself if what you just did can be done a little, little, better next time. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, but more to get into the function of you reflecting on what you’ve done. Maybe take five minutes at the end of each meeting, to quickly go around the team and ask what was good and what could be better.
Culture is crucial
For it to work, constantly reflecting on one’s work, such as one’s meetings, requires a culture of willingness to change. It must be possible for us to have the orientation that we strive together to be better.
Then we are back to the will. If you don’t try to get better, but just find it hard, it won’t work either.
I conclude by mentioning the warning that Henrik Eriksson mentioned about his improvement work and overworking the structuring itself. It is to make sure not to get stuck in a “bureaucratic goose”.
Of course, there should be order and structure in your work, but it should not be more important than that you actually manage to implement the improvements.
You don’t work on improvement to make it harder and more difficult for you at work. You’ll work on improvements to help you deliver better value to your stakeholders, more enjoyably and efficiently.
To quote Kay Pollak: “When it’s easy, it’s right.”