Dream Big… Start Small

My youngest daughter, who turns 1 this coming weekend, recently took her first steps and is a much happier little girl as a result.

My wife and I think she just wanted to go, go, go as she watched her older brother and sisters run around and play. Now she can join them and seems to be delighted because of it.

A Long Journey

But here’s the thing. It took her almost 12 months, and a tremendous amount of effort, to figure this walking stuff out.

Sure we helped her by propping her up and demonstrating how to walk by doing it ourselves. But, in the end, she did it her herself by improving a little bit everyday.

To be sure, it didn’t happen overnight and neither will the transformations of our companies or organizations.

Let’s Get Lean!

I see this all the time. People read a book about lean or six sigma and learn some new terms and decide that their company is going to “get lean” or something to this effect.

And while dreaming big like this isn’t bad… in fact I think it’s great… we must all take small steps as we progress on this never ending journey called continuous improvement.

Small Steps 3 Month Roadmap

So, here are a few suggested ideas that might help you make, or accelerate, your journey over the next 3 months.

  • Find someone else interested in continuous improvement you can talk to and learn with. Let’s call this person your CI partner. Use me if you don’t have anyone.
  • Learn something new every week for the next 3 months and explain what you’ve learned to your CI partner at the end of the week over coffee, beer, or some other beverage of choice.
  • Plan and execute 5 kaizen events over the next 3 months. Get help from others if you need it.
  • Teach at least 10 people something each month for the next 3 months. If you can teach something well, meaning people have learned, you really understand the topic. The training that is part of a typical kaizen event is an excellent time to accomplish this task.
  • Make something better each and every day for the next 3 months. It doesn’t have to be a big thing but something should be better than it was when you arrived.

There is more

Obviously, this list is not all encompassing… but it’s a start. So, if you haven’t already started, or perhaps things have stalled a bit for you, give these ideas a try for the next 3 months and check back in to tell us how it goes.

Also, be sure to check back in 3 months as I’ll have some more ideas on what to do at that point in time. You can subscribe to the blog here or by email at the end of this article to make sure you don’t miss anything!

What do you think?

What do you think of my list? Do you like it? Do you hate it? What would you do differently?

4 Comments

  1. Rick Foreman

    July 20, 2009 - 7:12 am

    Ron;
    Great example of how the journey starts with a decision, a goal, and follow through or practice. I’m not that crazy about the word “event” for our organization. We continue to realize the benefit of focusing on improving on just one thing better tomorrow than we did today. This might be viewed as more point kaizen, but we’re in an engage and influence mold each day in the attack on waste. I know the learning curve can pick up quickly. My 18 month old grandson has been with us for over a week and his wheels are moving non-stop. Thanks for the great example.

  2. Ron Pereira

    July 20, 2009 - 7:51 am

    @ Robert – Thank you and what a lovely little girl you have! You must be very proud. I trust you are teaching her all about lean! 😉

    @ Rick – Great points as always. Enjoy your grandkids… as I’m sure you do! We’re truly blessed brother!

  3. Tim McMahon

    July 20, 2009 - 10:35 am

    Great analogy and points Ron. Just think of the countless Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycles kids go through just to be able to take that first step. I think your suggestion of learning and doing something everyday is so key in taking that first step as well as in lean.