Friday, August 19, 2011
Consistency is critical
Continuous improvement requires that we work consistently to improve. But we all tend to have improvement fits and starts...but most commonly stops. How can we keep it going?
The key to consistency is building a habit, which is to say, making it automatic. We take a shower in the morning and brush our teeth because it has become habitual. It's simply what we do. We don't have to think about it.
That's what we want to get to for continuous improvement. We want it to be such an ingrained habit that it wouldn't feel right if we weren't working on improvement.
How do we do we make it automatic? Through consistent repetition. How do we keep the repetition going long enough to form a habit? Several ways.
- Make small changes. Small changes are less threatening, less anxiety producing, so it's easier to make them. As making chenges becomes more habitual, it will be easier to make bigger steps.
- Challenge yourself. What is it that needs improvement? The challenge motivates the change.
- Remind yourself. Post your challenges and your current changes where you will see them frequently or at strategic times. Schedule reminder events on your calendar or schedule reminder emails to be sent to you. Schedule a document to pop up first thing in the morning to remind you of your goals.
- Make your reminders active. You'll become more engaged in your reminders if they have you do something. For example, I have a goal reminder pop up on my computer every morning which includes my goals and what I'm currently working on, but also includes one or more questions to answer every morning. I keep the same questions for a week, then write a short summary at the end of the week. The repetition of questions stimulates creative answers.
- Keep track. Whether you keep a checklist, check days on a calendar, take a measurement or list the phone calls you make, by keeping track, you're more likely to keep the effort consistent.
- Celebrate your successes. Change isn't easy, so when you've made some progress, give yourself credit for it.
Posted at 12:00 AM