Friday, February 17, 2017

Lean Quote: Goals Give You Something to Aim For

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.

"A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.— Bruce Lee

Some say you should set specific, achievable goals, but actor and martial artist Bruce Lee notes that sometimes, it's okay to not reach that goal. If you've worked hard and made progress, that goal has still served its purpose by giving you something to aim for. It's better to be a little optimistic than overly realistic if you really want to achieve—though if you want those goals to really work, it's best to create multiple milestones along the way to help you out.

Lean Thinking is often described as a “journey, not a destination”. This journey toward dramatically improved business performance shares three characteristics with more traditional travel. Every journey has a starting point, an objective, and a path that connects the two. 

For me the Lean journey is not a stroll down a winding road but rather a climb up a perpetual hill. Reaching the top of the hill is the pinnacle of the journey. So you are either improving (climbing the hill) or you are falling back. The key to keep you moving forward up the hill is to stay customer focused (not competitor focused as that is looking behind you.) Your acceleration up the hill is controlled by the rate of new learning (this changes the speed of improvement). The smarter you work the closer you get to reaching the top.

Lean doesn’t end after you reach your first set of goals, and it’s not a finite project with a beginning and end date. Rather it’s a way of business life that everyone needs to pursue continuously. Sustaining the Lean effort and overcoming inertia requires institutionalizing your process (how you’re going to climb the hill). The real benefits of Lean come from a sustained effort over years, not weeks or months.

We have seen countless companies whose goal to be #1 leads to terrible demise once finally achieved. It is not necessarily that this is a bad goal but it is not customer focused. So once achieved they naturally decline. I believe if you are not improving then you are declining. 


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1 comment:

  1. I always liked the quote from Vince Lombardi's little but powerful book,"Winning Is A Habit". He said, "If one strives for perfection he can capture excellence".

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