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Improvement is an active process

Do you ever think about improvement work? I do it. And I see opportunities for improvement wherever I am.

The taxi glides along the E4 through the beautiful late summer morning. I sit in the back right and look over the front seats through the windshield of the taxi. The driver does not seem to see what I see. The windshield is all foggy. Not from moisture, but from dirt.

You can see through the windscreen, which is good when you’re driving at 120 km/h. But it is not finished.

However, the driver does not seem to care. The window being so dirty is not something that happened this morning, since the car was washed during the evening or night. No, it has been like this for a long time. The driver has simply failed to make improvements. He hasn’t cleaned the windscreen and he is used to how dirty it is.

It’s a bit like that in many businesses; you get used to things not working as well as they could.

We settle for

We are lulled into some kind of ‘that’s the way it’s always been’ and are content with that.

I’ve also thought about this when I’ve talked to a manager in an organization who says that they don’t really have the need to work on improvements. It’s like the driver in the car, where the boss doesn’t see how bad it is. But there is a way to make it look, so it works somehow anyway.

It seems that everything works as it should, because you don’t know anything else. A business may be making a profit or breaking even, the customers seem happy and the staff are quite happy with their work.

Isn’t that a good thing? Does anything need to be done? Shouldn’t we be satisfied that things are still pretty good?

It could actually be much worse, with the driver of the car not being able to see out of the windscreen at all.

But it could also be so much better. The driver of the car could have a completely clean windscreen with no diffuse view and no disturbing reflections.

Here the question becomes: if a little good, is enough good?

I would argue that this is not the case in the vast majority of businesses. There is a present and a future that both place high demands on us. It will be more challenging in the future.

The nine MEGA trends

In our trainings we talk about nine MEGA trends, which are challenging for many. For others, some of these trends may be opportunities, while the rest are just challenges.

The nine megatrends are transparency, demographics, globalization, networking, technology development, environment and climate, knowledge, increased demand for quality, and also increased demand for speed.

In connection with these, I see that there is much that could be done better. Not to say needs to be done better. So even if it’s “pretty okay”, “pretty okay” is not good enough. Not today, and definitely not tomorrow.

Why you need to clean your windscreen

It doesn’t get cleaner over time, it just gets dirtier and dirtier. When the driver gets an urgent transport on a long drive, it is too late to start cleaning the windscreen. If you dry a windshield half-heartedly, as you may know, it only gets worse.

Same for your business, I dare say, and I am generalizing. It may be “pretty good”, but it needs to be better. You need to actively work on improvements. You need to get better.

  • The budget must be balanced today. But what if you could have 13 million more, over, every year?
  • The staff may think it’s okay today. But what if they are doing great and people are lining up to work for you?
  • Customers, whatever you call them, perceive your service as okay today. But how does it feel if they are bragging about you and how great they feel about their contact with you?

Anything is possible, as long as you decide to take a targeted approach to improvement. And as I mentioned in a previous post on business development, you need to be patient. For what has taken a long time to become what it is today, it also takes a long time to develop further to make it better.

Good luck this week with your ongoing improvement work, or if you haven’t started, good luck getting started.

Matts