Image for  "The two most common barriers to improvement are…[drumroll]… imaginary!"

The two most common barriers to improvement are…[drumroll]… imaginary!

I thought I’d continue by listing some traps I’ve seen over the years, all of which limit new, bold and different thinking. Unfortunately, I still encounter them all the time, everywhere.

The first trap is to limit yourself based on the IT systems you have.

“We have system X and it can’t…” I often hear, and then they mean that they can’t think outside of what the system they have can handle. This can be supplemented by the fact that you really know that the system is not so good, but that you have many years left on the contract and therefore nothing to do.

That’s crazy! If we allow System X to restrict us in how we want to conduct our business, well then we have left it up to the System X provider to decide. That can’t be right, can it? Their system should support your way of thinking, not the other way around. It is you who make the demands and their task to provide solutions based on your thoughts.

The way forward in this case is that when designing your processes, put your IT systems aside and focus only on how you want it to work.

Think IT and digitalisation, but don’t link it to any specific system. Keep it separate. If you can think outside your IT systems, then when you finish designing you will be able to return to what you have. Then you can really make the right demands with other eyes and see if the system delivers what you want.

If the system does: Congratulations!

If the system does NOT: Great, then you have a basis for discussion about development or finding other solutions.

Another trap is to settle for someone else’s claim. Hearsay about someone saying or ordering something.

I hear over and over again that “the lawyer says…”, “the steering committee has said…”, or “the manager has said”. Many people probably think that when you say that, it’s a done deal, because it’s unquestionable.

However, I always ask: what is it that the lawyer, or someone else, has actually said? When was this said, and in what context? Is it written down or was it something that was picked up “in the corridor”? Was the new, bold and different idea clear in your mind when you, if you, said it? Probably not.

I usually add that we can invite them to our workshop so we can ask them directly. When we do, it usually turns out that it was either never said or decided, or that what this someone said was not really meant that way.

Moreover, in the light of the new, bold and different ideas that we can present, everything comes out in a new light.

Often it turns out that if we had been content to buy what this someone allegedly said, well then we would have missed a great opportunity for improvement. Because most of the time there is no obstacle in the way of the new, bold and different ideas that we have had.

Many years ago, during work in the municipality of Boden, we came across a claim that the lawyers had said something that would put an end to the innovative ideas of the working group. We invited them and explained how we thought. The claim that the lawyers were understood to have decided was that it was not possible to automate decisions in a process, but they had to be made by a human.

Once they understood the thinking of the working group and what we wanted to achieve, and that the new digital way was actually more legally secure than the previous one, they were fully on board and gave their full support to the development of the new process. They then made one of the country’s very first automated decision-making systems. Long before robots and very revolutionary 15 years ago.

So don’t let your systems or claims of “someone said something” stop your new, bold and different thoughts. Let go of the idea of what systems you actually have, and challenge claims that anyone has said or decided anything.

If you recognise yourself, feel free to get back to us and tell us what happened to you.

Have a great week,
greetings Matts