Let’s face it generating change can be difficult, its so common for improvement initiatives or transformation programmes to never get off the ground and often it can feel like you are wading through treacle. How to get a CI project moving and over the line has been a hot topic of discussion for me recently and I thought it would be useful to share my insights.

If you have seen some of my earlier posts you will know that I am a real advocate for clear definition of the why, purpose and vision before you embark on any change journey. This is the homing signal, its that beacon that helps guide you to the destination. With any journey we will hit problems and road blocks along the way, and these will inevitably force us down a different route. However as long as we don’t lose sight of the destination, the overarching goal or purpose then we should still be able to get to where we want to get to.

Last week I was working with a client on their product development process, and we had some quite detailed conversations on requirements capturing, test plans, road maps, schedules, design for sustainability, change management, configuration control, plans, conventional phase gate approaches, scums, agile, lean start-up and before you know it you could easily start to create a monster and lose sight of the original goal.

The goal is to improve the product development on time delivery performance, project status visibility and communication. If we lose sight of that, it is possible to create a process that won’t improve that at all, a process that could even make that worse. We often find ourselves overwhelmed with information, actions plans that can slow us down and make it difficult to get anything off the ground.

As I considered this, I was drawn back to the core principles of lean, what is the value? The value is the product release – on time on cost on quality and then question does all activities in the process add value? Does it aid flow or does it prevent it?

And probably the most important principle in this case – seeking perfection. To me this is the most mis-understood lean principle, seeking perfection doesn’t mean you have to create perfection in fact the core of continuous improvement really is that you constantly seek perfection this means that perfection doesn’t exist. It is chasing the rainbow – the target always moves but as you move you get better and better, faster and faster every time.

I think this is where I like Eric Ries, Lean Start-up approach – definitely worth a read if you haven’t read it already. It adopts the principle of creating an MVP (minimum viable product), testing it and just keep moving fast with the learning and improvement cycle. This to me is what I mean by the Just Do It – approach and Eric articulates and creates a model that at its very core is Lean Six Sigma. Its about creation of value though continuous learning, striving for perfection, the elimination of waste and variability.

In fact as write this content, I realise that I often get stuck in the rut of perfectionism with content, finding myself taking too much time, worrying that it is not good enough, this in turn stops me from producing it. So this week I will release one piece of content a day. Don’t expect it to be perfect, it will be far from it but it should give you value and it will improve every-time.

So my advice is don’t stop, keep moving and as Nike says Just Do It… but do it fast, fail fast and learn fast and you will get there. Don’t get too attached to plans, plans often need to change but as long as we know the destination we can pivot and alter course. In fact that applies to anything in life to. Understand where you want to get to and Just Feecking Do It, keep doing it, do it better every time and don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

A bit about me

I am the founder of Pure Improvement and we help engineering and manufacturing businesses shift from high waste and inefficiency to green and lean in 6 months, embedding environmental sustainability that saves time and money. The Pure Improvement Programme raises operational performance AND reduces environmental impact. We embed environmental and operational objectives into the core of the business, deploying them right through to ground level improvement activity.

If you have any questions – please do not hesitate to contact me or connect and follow me here and LinkedIn.

Zoe Darlington

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