A few years back I published an interview series called 5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success. In this interview series, I asked 50 top experts, executives and leaders the same opening question: “What is your best improvement strategy that has worked really well for you or your clients?”
I received a lot of surprising and unexpected to answers to that question.
More than one agile expert told me, “I start with what do you really want to accomplish and how do you want to get there?” Another improvement expert said, “It’s all about gaining trust and understanding the status quo.”
With few exceptions, all the responses were something different than what most people focus on or what they think they need to do to improve a business enterprise. In many cases, the person being interviewed was surprised at how they answered the question. When I reflected on all the surprising answers and what I was learning, I decided to answer that question for myself.
My response was:
“YOU are the best improvement strategy.”
That simple and singular idea then launched me on a new path to figure out how to do or be that “best improvement strategy.” It has led me to my current work at CONTAINER13 and Exploring Forward-Thinking Workplaces™.
Which all leads me to my current interview with Tom Thomison, Founder and Partner at encode.org and Co-Founder of HolacracyOne. In the opening question to our interview, Tom states:
“How do we start? By making it real for ourselves first. Figuring out how to do that—not relying on others to do it for us and that can go many different ways.”
I fully agree with Tom. This fundamental idea underpins the workshops and consulting that we call Forward-Thinking YOU where we help people understand why improvement starts with each one of us and how to be that change. In our interviews at Exploring Forward-Thinking Workplaces™, we seek to show how we can discover the answers we need in each other.
When the clear majority of companies are continuing to jump on the latest “silver bullet” solution, why is it important to start looking inward and to ourselves?
Eventually, many people come to the same conclusion that Tom and I came to:
“Inevitably over about 18 months, all that goodness that was in business process reengineering, or total quality management, or lean manufacturing atrophied, withered away and died. So about ten years ago I got tired of beating my head against the wall.”
It was a very similar series of triggering events that led me to start looking for better answers.
Tom shares some great insights on all of this and the innovative work he continues to do in How Do We Start & Make It Real?
I hope you enjoy the latest interview. I’d love to hear what you find most intriguing and invite you to join me in this week’s informal webinar chat where we will talk more about it and learn from each other.
Until next time, to your great work life & success!