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Are you too busy to improve?


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Continuous Improvement – Part 2 – Why not?

Are you too busy to improve?

In case you missed Part 1, don’t forget to read the article!

Continuous improvement seems obvious to consider, why doesn’t everyone do this all the time?

Continuous improvement is great and should be practiced on a regular basis, but it does come with its set of large challenges:

Improvement means change

The natural tendency around change is to be reluctant.

People are scared of the unknown and this adds stress to their daily lives. If for example they are handed a completely new software to use every day compared to the old one they mastered, they may become worried they won’t master the new one, or that they won’t be able to be as efficient.

It’s also important to note that people love their routine, some more than others, and changing that can bring frustration from team members.

It requires time and it’s secondary

When it comes to prioritizing between a client project against an internal project of adopting a new process, the client project will always come first as it is considered more important.

This constraints continuous improvement a lot because it generally becomes the thing we’ll do “when we have time” and this can be very rare or even nonexistent.

It’s a long-term view rather than a short-term view

People often go for the instant gratification, and the long-term benefit is often put aside. Continuous improvement is always working more now to benefit soon or much later.

For example, if installing a new project management tool means lots hours of work transferring projects to the new tool, more hours to train people to use it, not mention the initial learning curve where everyone will be less efficient and will need constant support, this can mean 50 hours of work.

If you look at it short-term, it will look like we just spent 50 hours only to be slower. Crazy, right?

If you look at it from a long-term point of view, once everyone is ramped-up, every project going forward will benefit from the added efficiency and will be more on budget. This means you could get back your 50 hours in 2-3 projects for example, and every additional project would be even more benefit again and again.

It’s hard to know where to start

Since everything can be improved all the time, people don’t know where to start, and this infinite number of choices can make people freeze and avoid the situation completely.

No power

You may be someone with no authority inside a team, so even if you want to bring improvement, it doesn’t mean it will accepted nor that you will be able to secure the resources needed to make the change.

It can also be more challenging to have the change be adopted by everyone since they might not listen to you.

 

It’s a constant fight

Continuous improvement is challenging, and the bigger the improvement or the team, the bigger the challenge. You often feel like you have to fight your way through change, whether to create the change or to maintain it. All of this makes continuous improvement hard to adopt, but who said the best things in life were the easiest?

 

Stay tuned for part 3!

Pointing direction


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To lead, or to manage?

Pointing direction

Source: Ricorocks

This is far from being a new subject, the comparison between manager and leader is something that’s been discussed for quite a while now.

Still, here below is my personal comparison/preference:

Manager

  1. Power given officially: The manager is an official role that has power associated with it which people understand. Therefore, people must follow the manager;
  2. Follows process: The manager will make sure process are followed by the team;
  3. One of many: Many managers share the same types of personalities, skills, experience, making them many capable of being in the same position;
  4. Focused on short-term: Managers will focus on what needs to be done right now to have results to report right away;
  5. Will follow the way things are: The manager will accept, and follow the way things are, making sure everything runs smoothly as they are;
  6. Doesn’t take risks: Generally doesn’t go towards risk, and will work more inside a comfort zone;
  7. Typically more respected by upper management who want things to run smoothly, or by people who love their routine.

Leader

  1. Power not given officially: A leader’s power is not given by anyone other than by peers that decide to follow the leader;
  2. Follows what needs to be done: The leader will want to aim towards getting things done, regardless if it follows process or not;
  3. An exception: A leader is generally different, it’s hard to find others that are the same;
  4. Focused on long-term: The leader has a vision, and will work hard today for the days to come;
  5. Will challenge everything: Unsatisfied by the way things are if they can be different for the benefit of people. He will challenge, and adjust everything;
  6. Takes risks: Ironically uncomfortable inside his comfort zone, taking risks and trying new things;
  7. Typically more respected by people who want things to change for the better.

So which one is better?

Neither. I always think a good balance of everything is the best. If you are too much of a manager and not a leader; people will only follow you because they are forced to, and you won’t get things to happen. If you are the other way around, you may go outside what’s accepted/tolerated, and your attitude may be completely rejected.

By being both, you make sure everything gets done the right away, all the while making sure everything is going towards the right path. People will want to follow you regardless of if they “have” to follow you because of your role.