Overcoming the Futility of Doing the Next Thing
Repeating things without improving them means you’re dead in the water, stuck in the muck, dying on the vine. Don’t simply do the next thing; make it better.
Leading isn’t repeating.
Your calendar includes reoccurring things like, performance reviews, company meetings, client calls, and staff development, to name a few.
Don’t repeat, improve.
But isn’t improvement hard? Is there time, energy, and resources? Improvement isn’t an option it’s an imperative. Making things better is better when it’s easy. Remember, making things harder isn’t an improvement.
Making it easy to make things better:
- New techniques. Do old things in new ways. What new approach to performance reviews can you employ, for example?
- New value to clients. Quarterly client calls gain value when you bring new value. Clients who trust you want your recommendations and suggestions for improving their business.
- More humanity.
- Variety. Try new locations, times, participants, even order of activity.
- Next level. Last time we had balloons this time we’ll have clowns.
- New value to employees. Shift from receiving value to giving value. How can you delight staff?
- Build on the present, don’t eliminate it.
- Eliminating antiquated systems, rituals, processes, and procedures. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, it’s time to stop it or rediscover why.
- Define “better”.
Bonus: Improvement means canceling a minimal-value meeting. Send an email instead.
Don’t change everything but improve something.
Waiting for big improvement often results in no improvement. On the other hand, small improvements make a big difference.
Where and how can leaders make simple improvements that make things better?
My direct reports all seem to prefer ad hoc meetings to scheduled ones. I think there’s something psychologically beneficial for everyone when there’s one less meeting on the calendar, and you’re probably already having a series of ad hoc meetings throughout the week anyway.
Thank you java.
Wonderful way to being today’s conversation. You took this idea to new places. 🙂
Or rethink perspectives of what meetings ‘should be’, how long, etc….what if they were 10 minutes at a set time every day rather than hour long mego…my eyes glaze over
Get suggestions for improvements from the team. It will get them involved and engaged in the work process. If they are able to help improve things or make things easier, their morale will also increase. More morale = more productivity.
Yes Joshua, I agree. Input equals buy in. Listen first. Then act.
But also in my experience improvement also involves some kind of discomfort. When I wanted to capitalize on technology to improve my communication, I had to first get some training in an area in which I didn’t feel comfortable. We have to be willing to take the steps…no matter the discomfort…to make improvements happen.
Thank you Dauna.
I minimized the uncomfortable side of improvement in this post, mostly because I was thinking of small changes. However, your point is well taken.
The only way we can justify “improvement” is life gets better…hopefull, sooner rather than later. 🙂
Thank you Joshua.
Engage…engage…engage! Of course that means leaders share information and trust others.
When my daughter, just out of college, took a job in inventory management she called me overwhelmed. I told her, just get through it, working as many hours as necessary, then go back and improve the process.
Being young, she didn’t realize how difficult it is to change entrenched processes at a company, succeeded and was soon promoted.
Be an agent of change, and good things happen.
Thank you Bill.
The brilliance of your counsel is … work with what is. Don’t ride in like a knight in shining armor ready to save the day. Understand the current context…then you can understand what improvement looks like.
Ask, ask often, ask repeatedly, like a broken record. Ask others, ask the customer…what is one thing we can do to make this experience, this moment even better with you. (Not ‘for’…’with’) Because we are human, the only thing that is perfect is our imperfection…once we own that, what is one thing we can do better…every day? Oh, and track it….measure it, know (not feel) that it is better. Probably the hardest part after that is sustaining it…but that is another thread.
Thank you Doc.
Ok, Ok, Ok…. dang your pushy. 🙂 Always a pleasure.
It is amazing how much time and money is wasted in the work place because of repeating things that you know need to be improved but just don’t take the time to do it. It is the old “we will get to that someday” and someday just doesn’t seem to happen. It can be such a vicious cycle. Great post you have stirred my coals on this topic 🙂
I find that when I begin to question the reason for a meeting, a lot of people are eager to have that conversation. I also like to question when meetings are scheduled for exactly one hour… it’s a convenient block of time, but I find that the conversation can rise to fill that time, when a 15 minute block would have done the trick.
Concise and impactful as always. Thanks for sharing!
I definitely agree with this statement – “Waiting for big improvement often results in no improvement. On the other hand, small improvements make a big difference”. Taking little but sure steps eventually creates great leadership results. Excellent post, Dan!
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