Continuous improvement, the past, feelings and rituals

Photo by visualpanic

Nametag Scott wrote an interesting post a few days ago under the concept: “You don’t need an idea – you need an I did”. In it he discusses the idea of continuous improvement or Kaizen (which I wrote about in the past). One part of the post really made me think:

2. What will you do differently next time? Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement. That’s exactly what this question is all about: Honoring your current performance, yet challenging yourself to envision an enhanced future.

In my first five years as a professional speaker, I employed this philosophy as a post-speech ritual. Once my presentation was over, I’d take fifteen minutes to write a stream of consciousness list. Every thought, every feeling and every evaluation of my performance, I wrote down.

What worked? What didn’t work? What killed? What bombed?

This simple ritual grew into a profitable practice for continuous improvement of my performance as a speaker. How could you apply the same reflection process to your job performance?

I find this particular advice powerful because of three reasons:

1. It acknowledges the past, but puts it behind. Scott says: “I’d take fifteen minutes to write a stream of consciousness list”. That is it. 15 minutes. We fret a lot about the past on analyze every aspect of it. We let out attention be captured by it. While it is important not to ignore past mistakes and make sure we learn from them, the focus should be on the future. Feedfoward instead of feedback.

2. It acknowledges the importance of feelings, not thoughts. Scott says: “Every thought, every feeling and every evaluation of my performance, I wrote down”. Yes, we can and should look at things rationally, but we should also look at them emotionally. When are too focused on the numbers, on the performance on the outcomes, we tend to lose touch with our own humanity. I am not suggesting to sit and cry for fifteen minutes after every failed performance, but I am suggesting that we need to recognize the importance of feeling in our performance and decision-making.

3. It emphasizes the importance of rituals. Continuous improvement is all about rituals and habits. Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit”. Yet, most of us trust ourselves to do the right thing, to make the difficult analysis, to put things on the table, to learn from our mistakes. If all of these things were so easy, they wouldn’t be so valuable. There is strength in rituals not only in our personal lives but also in our professional lives. What kind of rituals or habits does your company or team has? What challenges do these rituals or habits help your overcome?

Elad

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: