Golden Rules of Continuous Improvement

I`ve had (so far) some history in trying to innovate things, by creating some processes and rules of constinuous improvement, by generating solutions, finding a key to Wonderland in difficult contexts, high targets and objectives. I often got the clasical answer: It`s impossible! Try to be more flexible, try to adjust yourself to policies, rules and direction.

I even got some debates regarding these topics. The conclusions and results were pretty much in the same line. What if the policies and the rules are incorrect? What if the direction is wrong, or you don`t have anywhere to go? What is your responsability when a plan, a set of rules or policies are not fit for the results you are trying to achieve?

I might know a few that will blame me for trying to climb the mountains, considering this is an act of irrational decision making or fake success story. Some might say I am unexperienced. Others might say I am arrogant. Ladies, genltemen, the most important lessons I have learnt are the consequences of my own choices and decisions. So, let`s start!

1. Impossible Is A Paradigm – Stop Saying No!

Once you get a challenge, take it. Never give up! The more difficult, the sweetest the reward. Do not stop because others say you won`t make it. Have you tried to shift this paradigm? If you’re not willing to change your mind, then you’re looking at Einstein’s other powerful theory which was:

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.

2. All Solutions Were Generated By Problems

Opportunities come in many different forms. All problems create opportunities.

When engineers building a train tunnel beneath a Japanese mountain found they had a problem with leaking water they could simply have pumped it away. Instead they bottled it and sold it as mineral water and within a few years built a brand worth over $50m/year.

When Alexander Fleming discovered that one of his culture dishes had grown mould instead of bacteria he might simply have thrown it away or made sure it was cleaned properly next time. Instead he took a closer look and discovered penicillin, saving millions of lives.

The key that turned a problem into an opportunity was a difference in the inner attitudes of the people facing these situations: to look for and find the opportunities in an apparently ‘problem’ situation.

3. DRIFT – Do It Right The First Time!

The idea behind DRIFT is that management wants all of the processes that make up the JIT (just in time) philosophy to be done correctly and efficiently, so there are no delays in the production process.

If there is something you want to achieve, but you haven`t managed to do it so far, then you might need a little assesment to determine the reason why. Fear is what fuels excuses. We start making excuses when we are afraid how someone will react to something we say or do. Practice honesty, specially with yourself, eliminate excuses. If you cannot make it, ask yourself if you really want to achieve the goal you have set for youself. Set realistic goals, stop procrastinating.

4. Ask “Why?” At Least 5 Times!

hand holding an empty business card

Asking “Why?” may be a favorite technique of your three year old child in driving you crazy. If you manage to overcome the frustration of not getting an immediate answer, the result might be quite useful to determine a root cause. In reality the 5 Whys is a technique to






By repeatedly asking the question “Why” (five is a good rule of thumb), you can peel away the layers of symptoms which can lead to the root cause of a problem. Very often the ostensible reason for a problem will lead you to another question. Although this technique is called “5 Whys,” you may find that you will need to ask the question fewer or more times than five before you find the issue related to a problem.

5. Brainstorming

We are smarter as a group than a single individual! Brainstorming involves focussing on a problem and then allowing participants to come up with as many solutions as possible. 

The following description comes from: Department of Sustainability and Environment (2005), Book 3: The Engagement Toolkit.Effective Engagement: building relationships with community and other stakeholders, The Community Engagement Network Resource and Regional Services Division Victorian Government Department of Sustainability and Environment. 

“During the brainstorming session there is no criticism of ideas – the idea is to open up as many possibilities as possible, and break down preconceptions about the limits of the problem. Once this has been done the results of the brainstorming session can be analysed and the best solutions can be explored either using further brainstorming or more conventional solutions. Brainstorming is useful in warming up a workshop and creating a sense of unity between workshop participants by ‘breaking the ice’ between them.

Objectives: Brainstorming aims to develop the broadest possible range of creative options, to evaluate these, and to select the best.

Outcomes: Brainstorming will offer better solutions to a community issue or proposal because a wider range of options has been canvassed.”

6. Immediately Correct Errors

Anyone who has worked in an office for more than a day has made a mistake. While most people accept that slip-ups are unavoidable, no one likes to be responsible for them. he good news is that mistakes, even big ones, don’t have to leave a permanent mark on your career. In fact, most contribute to organizational and personal learning; they are an essential part of experimentation and a prerequisite for innovation. Despite my friendly approach regarding mistakes, it is imperative to correct them immediatly. In this way we will avoid repeating it.

7. Rigidity Or Innovation?

One of the most baffling and recalcitrant of the problems which business executives face is employee resistance to change. Such resistance may take a number of forms – persistent reduction in output, increase in the number of “quits” and requests for transfer, chronic quarrels, sullen hostility, wildcat or slowdown strikes, and, of course, the expression of a lot of pseudological reasons why the change will not work. Even the more petty forms of this resistance can be troublesome. Instead of deploy a personal resistance in return, I have chosen the following steps:

Participation in making the change

Understand the true nature of the resistance

Fill in the blind spots with new innovative ideas

Emphasizing new standards of performance for staff specialists and encouraging them to think in different ways, as well as making use of the fact that signs of resistance can serve as a practical warning signal in directing and timing technological changes

Meetings of staff and operating groups where change is being discussed

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