Sure, there are other measures of success we can use such as process data and financial performance, but the ultimate goal with any process improvement initiative is to build a culture that wants to continually improve, and without a want / desire to get better, achieving that goal is nearly impossible.
So why would someone want to do another LSS project? The reasons I’ve heard are no different than any other activity that brings enjoyment, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment. Some of the reasons I have heard include:
It was fun!
I learned something new.
We made a positive impact.
We helped someone who needed help.
I felt a sense of accomplishment.
On the opposite side of the spectrum when I’ve heard people say “no” that they don’t want to do it again the reasons were:
It was painful.
The process was too complicated.
It took too long.
I didn’t feel appreciated.
The effort wasn’t worth the reward.
It was a waste of my time!
If, as LSS professionals, our goal is not simply to execute projects that deliver financial results, but instead is more about helping individuals, teams, and ultimately the entire organization, flourish and thrive at what they do we need to be focused on creating the attitude of “I want to do that again!” after every project, but how do we do that?
Creating an “I want to do that again!” attitude.
I believe creating an “I want to do that again” attitude begins with stripping away all the complexity that traditionally comes with LSS. There’s no question we (LSS professionals) like complexity, which in a sense is a good thing because LSS thrives when we focus the methodology on solving tough problems, but when you ask people if they are looking for more complexity in their work lives…well, you know the answer.
So how do we stay true to the methodology, but yet keep it simple and not overly complicated? I often begin projects by telling a team my personal goal is to do as little as possible to achieve the goal we have stated on the project charter; in other words, I begin with the end in mind, and focus on how we can find our way to success with the least amount of energy, complexity, etc.
Part of this “lean” mindset is also looking at everything we do during the course of a project and asking, “Is this value-added?”. One of the most common forms of waste I find in projects is excess processing; in other words, going above and beyond what is really needed (aka gold-plating). Just because you do more doesn’t mean you’ll get more!
A single focus is also helpful in creating the attitude. I’m fond of stating, “One problem; one number” as a way of keeping a single focus as a project gets kicked off. There’s something magical that happens when you focus on one problem at a time and use one number to measure that problem.
Another way of reducing complexity is to take a critical look at which tools you pull out of your LSS toolbox. We often like to strut our stuff by showing our capabilities, especially when it comes to data analysis, but many times when I ask whether or not I really need to do the analysis to get to the goal line the answer is no.
There’s nothing wrong with using complex tools when they’re needed, but often I find that they’re not needed, but we still pull them out and use them just because we find them exciting and challenging. More than likely your team members will not have the same excitement you do for such things as ANOVA, multiple regression, capability analysis, etc. More tools don’t always lead to more results!
Focus on serving instead of being served.
A final, and perhaps the most important, way to create an “I want to do this again!” attitude is shifting your focus from what you want to what your team wants. We often teach about identifying the what’s in in for me or WIIFM factor when working on projects, but in reality we should be more focused on the what’s in it for them or WIIFT factor. Having a servant perspective goes a long way in creating a want to do it again attitude.
Our “selfie” society is shifting to a me centered perspective where it’s all about me and what I can get. This viewpoint is found in many LSS professionals as well, focusing on what they are going to get from the project. The attitude is often about getting my certification, getting my promotion, getting my raise, getting my recognition, getting my etc.
I don’t have any quick fixes to how to shift your focus from being served to serving others, but I can tell you that when you do shift your focus to truly helping others they (those you are helping) will see your sincerity that will lead to creating an I want to do it again attitude. The ironic thing is when you focus on serving, you too will get served, and in the end you will get much of what you want as well, in fact I often get far more than I expected when I go in with a servant’s attitude.
Going forward my challenge to you is to ask your team one simple question, “Do you want to do this again?”, but be prepared to take action if their answer is “no”. By asking the question you are taking the first step in creating a servant’s attitude in yourself that will begin the process of showing others what your ultimate goal is-helping them thrive and flourish at what they do.