- Do you wash your car only once a year, or do you make sure it’s always clean?
- Do you tidy up a few times a year, or maybe a decade, or do you keep things tidy on an ongoing basis?
- Do you promise every New Year to get in shape and then you buy exercise cards and start exercising and then get bored, or do you exercise on a regular basis in a way that is easy for you?
- Do you cut the grass when it grows too tall, or do you have a robotic lawnmower that cuts “all the time”?
And what does it look like in your business, do you constantly work on your improvement work, or do you handle it as a project that you “dust off” now and then?
You may remember the story of the hare and the tortoise?
The animals had gathered in the forest. The hare then bumped into the turtle and started pecking him for being so slow.
– Haha, you are so slow, said the hare. I can run around you for several laps before you’ve even got a metre,” scoffed the hare.
– Don’t be so cocky, said the turtle. I can go further than you think.
The rabbit laughed so hard he chuckled.
– You might want to run with me, said the turtle.
The animals around fell silent and the hare was astonished.
– What, run along with you?” said the hare.
– Sure, the turtle said, we’ll start now.
That said, a start and finish line was arranged, as they would run around the big lake.
The race started and the hare took off at a very fast pace. Initially, he took a few leaps over the turtle just to show his strength, agility and speed. The other animals howled. Then the hare set off with its muscular legs along the forest road.
It didn’t take long for the hare to get almost around the lake, but he felt a bit tired now that he had run so fast.
– The turtle is hopelessly behind, thought the hare. I’ll rest here and then I can run into the finish. It’ll be fun. The rabbit fell asleep on a patch of moss beside the path.
The turtle worked on. It wasn’t fast, but he didn’t feel any fatigue. He even managed to quietly catch a leaf here and there, which gave him energy.
A few hours later, the hare woke up after a nice slumber. He stretched and wondered where the turtle could be. To his surprise, he sees turtle tracks on the path and he hears howling on the other side of the lake.
– I can’t have slept so long and hard, thought the hare. He set off at top speed for the last stretch towards the finish. When he arrived, he saw the turtle cross the finish line calmly, to the delight of all the other animals. They cheered and congratulated the turtle.
– ‘Well,’ said the tortoise as the hare reached the finish line, ‘stubbornness and perseverance bring success, as you can see.
Improvement efforts are more turtle
To succeed in your improvement efforts, you need to handle them more like the tortoise than the hare.
I call it having an initiative and not a project. A project is set up to solve a well-defined task for a limited time and with limited resources. I see an initiative as something that is ongoing all the time.
Thus, an initiative may contain several projects. The initiative is to work on improvements, both continuous ones in the daily work, but also special efforts to lift a process to a whole new level in a short time.
The latter is a perfect place to start a project. It’s a bit like the turtle and the hare are best friends and help each other out. Could it get any cuter?
To quote author and TED speaker Dan Pink; “Consistency beats intensity”.
That is, being purposeful and working on something constantly will yield better results in the long run than working on something quickly from time to time.
What you do every day, it becomes a habit. And a good habit will ultimately lead to excellence.
Excellence in our operations is what we call Business Excellence.
- Washing your car on a regular basis both keeps it clean and makes it easier to wash every time.
- Constantly tidying up and keeping things tidy both keeps your home tidy and is easier than giving up a busy weekend for the big clean and then living in the mess in between.
- Exercising every day in a simpler way is healthier than exercising completely a few times a year and then losing the desire to continue.
- Mowing the grass on the go makes for a finer, healthier lawn (and easier with a robot), than having to mow with a scythe when it gets so high that the mower is inoperable.
So, to successfully meet the increased demands and challenges of tomorrow, you need to start your improvement work now so that it becomes part of your everyday life.
If you want to grow your own apples, when was the best time to plant an apple tree? 10-15 years ago. When is the next best time? NOW!
I want to and can help you. I’ll get back to you with more information on how to start a successful improvement process.
If you take me at my word and want to get started now, just reply again to this email and we’ll talk.