The global marketplace has created a new game whereby forcing companies and their leaders to change the way they think and operate. The object of this game is to consistently provide even-higher quality products and services at lower costs relative to the quality produced. This is contrary to our societal belief that higher quality must cost more.
Three fundamental shifts in an organization’s mindset make it possible to understand how to achieve high quality and low cost in every action taken. First, there is a shift from a purely externalized view of the world to one that combines the internal with external. Organizations not only focus on strategic external activities but understand the importance of internal capability. Second, there is a change in focus from content, or results - a focus that only sees outcomes - to one that appreciates the process leading to them, as well as the results. Finally, a shift from acting in response to external crises or stimuli, to being internally driven by the freely chosen will to improve and create something better. I am going to focus on the later for the remainder of this discussion.
To be right and best.
To be improving continually.
Method of Perceiving
Looking at results with desire to control outcomes.
Looking at process to increase comprehension and performance.
Object of Measures
Fix blame, determine what / who is wrong.
Get data on current performance to help improve and adjust.
Source of Mental Energy
Threats / fear, fire-fighting excitement.
Problem elimination, challenge to improve.
Short-term fixes, immediate feedback
Long-term system upgrade, indirect feedback.
Attitude toward Change
Avoid major system change because it implies wrongness.
Expectation of constant small and large changes.
Guiding Principle re: Change
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
It can always be done better.
Quick analytical skill and remedial action.
Curious about large system: act to create quality, prevent recurrence.
While there may be a strong desire to shift from crisis-driven to kaizen-driven thinking, the transition must be made carefully. The crisis-driven system requires ongoing attention, even while it is being phased out, because it lies at the heart of all our current systemic structures and till maintains order.
Moving to kaizen thinking may be difficult but not impossible. It requires us to change our action behind thinking. Below is a table of key drivers of action behind crisis and kaizen thinking.
After the fact
Before the fact
Expedite out-of-control operation
Upgrade in-control operation
Long term/indirect reward
Immediate problem fix
Continuous thorough diagnosis
Work/problems come to you
You go to the system
Internal –hero oriented
Narrowing of thinking scope
Raising/widening of scope
Time to redo
Time to do it correctly
Progress is tangible only
Progress often intangible
Working harder gets it done
Working smarter gets it done
Variance to fixed standard
Standard continually upgraded
Work as unified flow
Disconnected individual effort
Connected joint effort
Things always break
Things are prevented from breaking down
Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken
It can always be improved
Give me simple answers now
Let’s see how this works
Don’t ask questions –do it
Questions help us understand
Don’t confuse me with data
What are the data?
Job security comes from their depending on my ability to fix
Job security comes from increasing our capability
Learning takes too long
Learning is continuous
Learning means you are inadequate
Learning is necessary to deal with change
Getting by is good enough
Fixing it permanently is the only solution
Quality is passing inspection
Quality is no variances
Quality is not as important as quantity/low cost
Quality is everything we do and think
Don’t challenge the system
Everything can be improved
Success is individual
Success is of the whole
Work manages me
I manage my work
Customer reactions drive improvement
Customer input blends with technology and capability input to create improvement
I get paid to react quickly
I get paid to think, then do
Who is to blame is important
What went wrong is important
Targets are to be hit
Trends of improvement are tracked
Don’t worry about the big issues
Work on seeing how large issues affect the small ones and vice-versa
Mistakes mean failure
Mistakes show where we need to improve
External simulation from crises (especially bosses)
Internal simulation from exploring, discovering, improving, understanding
Physical energy dominates
Mental energy dominates
Bored with discipline, routine, energy goes into complaining
Dislike disorder, maintain orderliness; cleanliness, standards, safety; self-managing
Thinking is what shapes our actions. Not only what we think but how we think. World-class products and services result from breakthrough thinking. If companies are going to deliver higher quality and lower cost in the increasingly competitive global economy, they must change the way they think about work, organization, and themselves.