Do you ever feel paralysed by the needs of your business improvement plan?

I know that I have in the past and I certainly see this issue when I start working with a new client. Change isn’t usually a straightforward affair; the path is often convoluted and bumpy (to say the least!). Facing these challenges can stifle our creative juices if we put certain expectations on ourselves and so I want this article to shift your perspective.

When we get tied up with creating a perfect solution, designing a route to the levels of performance we need to achieve, our brains can get stuck. Changing what we are trying to do in this situation can be enough to free ourselves from this mentally limiting episode and allow us to exceed our original expectations.


Remove the mental shackles

If you are feeling mentally tied up with designing the complete improvement solution try working on this question – “something better than where we are today.”

At worst it will help you to generate some new ideas that can contribute to your ‘perfect’ solution. It will most likely free you from your mental shackles and at best give you a breakthrough.

Like most things in life, the reality will probably be somewhere in-between. You’ll get some new ideas, you’ll get off the starting blocks and along the way you’ll piece enough of the jigsaw puzzle pieces together so that you can develop the final design.


A two-step plan

For some businesses this approach is all you need. It can take you past where you thought you could get to. For others (especially larger businesses) they will need a fully developed plan. If you need a fully developed plan, then let me extend this idea for you.

Instead of struggling to develop a perfect plan in one go, split the development phase into two distinct parts.

Part 1 is the experimental phase. Generate some ideas and execute some low key experiments / surveys / trials. Gather the results and shape your ideas further.

Part 2 is the design stage where the information and data you gathered from part 1 is used to create the design you propose to your line manager.


Exceeding expectations

My clients have unshackled themselves as I have suggested too.

One business stripped their manufacturing lead time from 22 days down to 8 when they stopped focusing on developing a ‘perfect’ plan. Their original goal was to (only) get under 15 days!

Another business cut out nearly 50% of their administrative time, a great achievement when compared to their ‘set in stone’ objective to drop 10%. They hadn’t made any progress for the past twelve months until we took the pressure off and boy did they perform.

The trial phase of the design planning for another client improved their workshop sign ups by over 100% because they were free to play and experiment with better ideas to promote their events. Previously, under pressure for a comprehensive plan by the business’ management team, they limited themselves to the tried and tested (and underperforming) approaches. Playing it safe didn’t mean playing well.


Are you under pressure for the ‘perfect’ plan?

A grumble I often hear from the owners of businesses is that this approach sounds like it will take too long, won’t hold people accountable and doesn’t guarantee any results.

These are the same people that aren’t seeing any results right now!

I agree that it sounds woolly and unstructured, but so is the confidence and motivation of our colleagues at times. By following the two-step plan I suggest in this article you can have the best of both worlds. You will be embracing the essence of the Kaizen approach and the ability to manage a fully thought through business improvement plan.

At worst you will have lost a few weeks if you try this approach and don’t get anywhere. At best you will have charged up the team with positive energy and experiences; your pace will be far higher going forward and will most likely have a more engaged team working on the improvements.

This probably isn’t a hard sell for any open minded senior manager / co-director in your business.


Embracing this approach in a more systematic way

If this approach sounds useful then download a copy of the ‘Improvement Accelerator Framework’.

This kit will help you to develop your improvement principles and allow your team to fully embrace continual improvement in your business. It includes all of the worksheets, templates and instructions so that you can quickly deploy the ideas in your business.

To find out more click here.

Get your copy today for only $25.00






Have fun testing out your ideas and removing the chains of perfection!



Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their productivity and on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-engineering and the creator of the Making It Happen toolkit.