I had the strangest dream last night. I don’t normally remember my dreams… but I remember this one. I was speaking to a man about continuous improvement. I’m not sure who the man was… but in my dream I seemed to know him. Anyhow, during our conversation the man told me, “Ron, there are only three things we lean thinkers need to remember. We must learn, grow, and share. That’s it. Learn. Grow. Share.”
A few seconds later I was kicked in the head by my 5-year-old daughter who managed to sneak into mom and dad’s bed… so I have no idea what my response was in the dream. But, as I laid there reflecting on this message I realized it made a lot of sense.
As lean thinkers we need to learn. If you look at something like the Toyota Kata framework you may think it’s a problem solving methodology. It’s not. Yes, problems are ultimately countered as a result of practicing the Improvement and Coaching Kata… but, at its core Toyota Kata, Practical Problem Solving, and even Six Sigma’s DMAIC are really about one thing… learning. If we can learn enough about our processes… what works and what doesn’t work… well, we can overcome just about anything. Put another way, the organization that learns faster than their competition most definitely has the advantage.
Once we’ve learned it’s time to grow from the knowledge. If the experiment didn’t turn out the way you expected… fantastic! You can learn and grow from the experience. And if you have a record month of sales… fantastic! You can learn and grow from the experience. So, really, here’s the point the man in my dream was trying to make (I think!)… learning without growth is pointless.
Finally, once we’ve learned and grown it’s time to share the good news with as many people as we can. Our world needs continuous improvement in a bad way my friends. And if you’re reading this chances are you’re REALLY into this continuous improvement stuff. So don’t wait! Go out and offer to help those around you. Definitely help the company that pays your salary. But reach out to others in your community who need what you can offer. They don’t even know to ask you for help… so you’re going to have to take the first step.
The cool thing is once you do take that the first step the learning, growth, and sharing can begin all over again!