Friday, June 26, 2015

Lean Quote: Don’t Seek Immediate Perfection

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"An environment that calls for perfection is not likely to be easy. But aiming toward it is always a goal to progress.— Thomas Watson, Jr.

Perfection is futile.  To be sure, perfection is the goal but it can not be achieved in one single initiative.

If we all waited for perfection, we'd still be reading by candlelight and riding horses to work. The problem in the real world is that nothing is perfect. It sounds obvious, but it is not quite as obvious.

Shoot for better, 80% better. Once you get to a certain point (whether it's 50% or 80%, or another number that makes sense), then run with it. In other words, take action. Then, adjust as you go along.

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the benefit comes from 20% of the work. The last 20% of benefit (the perfect) requires 4 times more work. Often people believe perfection (100% benefit) is only slightly more expensive/difficult than the good (80% benefit). That isn't true.

If you try to achieve perfection you may well be at the kaizen a very long time.  Perfection is elusive.  If you can accomplish 80% of what you set out to and meet the goals of the charter then call it complete.  You will be back to improve from this new state again.

If people are told that perfection is the goal, but that it is impossible, they will rightly think that management has not quite thought this one through. They will mistrust much of what else is said. Instead, people should be told that perfection is the goal and we simply don’t know enough at the moment to reach it.

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