Where does Continuous Improvement Start?

A personal productivity improvement

The work of continuous improvement accelerates when leadership practices what they preach. In doing so, Leaders don't have to think about the doing of Lean and Continuous Improvement (this term is quit a mouthful, so I like to use "LCI"), over time LCI just spills out of them. This idea is just like my experience in driving a car. Long ago, when the time came to get a drivers license, I had to intently focus when I was behind the wheel of a car. And when the time came to take my first drivers test, I hardly remember what the examiner looked like, but I can recite almost every inch of that horrific drive. Why the word, “horrific”? First, I was so resolute in my purpose and intensely focused on my actions that I could barely talk without my voice quivering (nervous about being nervous about driving nervously). Second, I failed to slow down to 15 MPH at a blind intersection with no stop signs (Hey! I did slow down to 20 MPH). That slip-up cost me my drivers license, and I had to take the test a second time. Guess what? I nailed the blind intersection test the second time and went on to receive my license. But these days, after decades of driving experience, I can have conversations with people in the car and still drive safely (if you ask my wife, the word, “safely” is a relative term). To be sure, the process of driving is a natural part of my life.

The same idea holds true for leaders who desire their organization to utilize and embrace LCI. So what does this look like to you and me? To start, we must purposefully make the time to practice. For me, the best thing I did was not limit my practice just to the inside of the company with other teammates. I also practiced LCI outside of work and in my personal life. After many years of practice, I find myself always looking for better ways of doing things. Here is a recent example.

I came to realize that I was getting bugged about scheduling my calendar. I then decided it was time to figure out why this activity bothered me so much. But, the answer came the very next time someone reached out to meet with me. I realized I have regularly pulled away from my main efforts by this nagging administrative chore. I measured the time it took to book a meeting. I then calculated how much of my day was spent doing this task. WOW! The results surprised me. I could spend 10% - 13% of my day just working out a time to meet other professionals! The process typically looked like this:

However, I also realized this process could take up to six or seven iterations while we tried to synchronize date, time and location, and could take as long as three days to finalize the booking of calendars. Add to this the reality that I could send five to ten invitations in a day, and my workday quickly loaded up with calendar-booking activity. I had to do something! Not just for me, but for the invited professional too!

So last month I decided to utilize a scheduling App. I decided to use an App that shares my availability with those I invite. After a month of utilizing it, I can report that the use of this App has greatly improved my efficiency and productivity! For me, the process of scheduling my calendar has dropped to a single iteration per invitation. The time to create an invitation with the App link has dropped too. Overall, the impact on my day has been huge! Instead of taking 10% - 13% of my work day, my total scheduling time takes a mere 1%.

This post is not about the App that I selected, and the App is not endorsing me. My example demonstrates how Lean and Continuous Improvement (LCI) has become my normal way of thinking. The deliberate exercise of LCI is how LCI becomes integrated into the daily activities of individuals and the organization's culture. We are not born with these skills, we must develop them. What better way to build our LCI muscles than to practice LCI in every part of our life?

If you are leading a group of hard-working team members, LCI still starts with you! You may desire to integrate LCI from the ground up, or you are struggling to gain traction with current efforts. No matter the situation there is always room to improve, but the renovation always starts with you!

May I be of service to you? I would enjoy learning more about you and your Lean and Continuous Improvement journey, and to assist you in your efforts. If you would like to connect with me to discuss and ask questions contact us!