The Elements of Improvement

Improvement requires three factors:

  • Information. People need information about the context and how their work fits into the big picture. They need information from the work so they can self-correct. Without this information, systematic improvement is impossible.
  • A desire to improve. Most people want to do their best and learn to do better–until that impulse is squashed. One-sided evaluations, organizational hurdles, relentless pressure strangle the desire to improve.
  • Time to reflect and learn. People need time to design and implement new processes, and  practice new skills. Relentless deadline pressure makes this impossible. People under pressure are less likely to try something new, or think clearly about anything.

When one of these factors is missing, individual and systemic improvement goes out the door.

4 Replies to “The Elements of Improvement”

  1. Agreed! A good analogy that covers all three points (at a stretch) is that of a Meerkat.

    Instead of scurrying around in the dirt all day, pop your head up and take a look at the landscape around you. Serves as a good time for both reflection and protection!

  2. Brilliant description of improvement in the workplace. Helps me understand the frustrations better. When one understands the problem, one can solve it. Or just accept it. Either way, its a positive from the negative. Thank you!

  3. Fully agree! Information is what empowers people, and enables them to take action. The desire stimutes them to actually do the change. And with the reflection and learning, they get better in improving, resulting in continuous improvement!

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