The ability to changeâ€¦ personally and in business [Guest Post]
Guest Post: Kurt Woolley is Lean Champion within Intelâ€™s Fab/Sort Manufacturing (FSM) organization, and founder of Atmos Industries. See more on his LinkedIn profile.
The other day, as I was scrubbing the dishes with the same old brush that weâ€™ve used for years, I glanced at the crusty, worn, bent bristles, and just how lousy the dishes looked after scrubbing, and thought to myself, â€œI wonder how much a new brush costs these days?â€ So â€œdish brushâ€ ended up on the shopping list for the next dayâ€™s trip to the grocery, and voila: a mere $3.50 and scrubbing dishes suddenly became so much more enjoyable, effective and efficient.
Another example: weâ€™re a family of seven â€“ my wife, yours truly, and five kids. Needless to say, life is busy, and itâ€™s impossible to keep track of every item and necessity in the house despite the number of lessons in 5S I try to drill into everyone! Consequently, I canâ€™t recall the number of hours Iâ€™ve spent over the past few years hunting for the scissors, tape, stapler, etc. After one final but frustrating search for the packing tape in order to mail that box of shoes that didnâ€™t end up fitting our 9-year old son, it hit me: if this is so frustrating and important to me, why donâ€™t I just keep my own, separate stash of these critical items? (Okay, Iâ€™m kind of revealing my penchant for hoarding a little here, but problem solved!). So, just as with the dish brush, I had to personally change the way I was approaching the problem in order to begin seeing different results.
The very same challenge holds true in business for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Over the past several months, Iâ€™ve worked with and coached several managers and business owners, two of whom proved especially challenging when it came to their inability to change. It seems no matter how many advisors, consultants, or mentors some people enlist and pay to help them, the light bulb just takes longer to turn on. One particular owner was convinced that implementing lean would be the end-all solution to his problems, but after two weeks, it became obvious the problem was staring him right in the mirror: an inability to hold people accountable. Once we focused on this, company performance began to improve dramatically. The second owner was deeply rooted in believing that processes and procedures werenâ€™t being followed, which was a symptom of the underlying root cause: the right people werenâ€™t even â€œon the busâ€ or in the right positions. As soon as she recognized this and made the appropriate changes, both quality and customer service made 180Ëš turns for the better.
The point with these simple examples is merely this: personal change starts at the individual level and often takes tremendous courage, as well as the ability to be brutally honest with oneâ€™s self. Many say the impetus to change stems from a strong dissatisfaction with the current state (some even say hatred forâ€¦), but in reality, it starts just one step before this, and thatâ€™s awareness: often times, weâ€™re so programmed to chug along and carry on through our days in our comfortable routines that weâ€™re completely oblivious to the waste we live with, work around and accommodate. So, first awareness, then dissatisfaction (i.e., the â€œburning platformâ€ as itâ€™s also known), then the motivation to change can take root, and things wonâ€™t change unless we take the first step in initiating that change. As the famous saying goes, â€œwe have met the enemy and he (or she) is us!â€