5 points for perfection

We are all undertaking a healthy pursuit of perfection, but can we really get there and if not, how do we enjoy the journey in trying?

After writing my last entry on Pull, I thought it only right to move onto perfection.

As I’m sure you’re aware that this is the fifth of the five Lean principles. You should also know that it does not end there.

We know this, and have seen the cyclical diagram that represents the principles yet why is it so often forgotten. I have lost count of the number of time that I have facilitated improvement teams and have had to remind the team that the objective of the activity has a finite scope. That this is not our only opportunity to improve.

Most often we forget this as, on challenging the way we do things today, we tend to get excited by the possibilities. A natural and admirable reaction. The issue here is that we usually have a time constraint to our improvement efforts. Thinking and planning must be supplemented with doing.

Continuous improvement is named as much for a reason. We do a little, learn a little then do some more. We are not trying to reach perfection in a 1 week improvement activity.

Below are 5 points that should guide us in this principle.

  • Lean is a methodology for Continuous Improvement
    • Develop our people and processes incrementally
  • Standards can be changed
    • In fact, if they are not changing – are we improving?
  • Scope improvement activity realistically
    • Consider the time and the resources and set a realistic target – this can still be challenging!
  • Have confidence in your work
    • Use a logical improvement process to allow quick application of techniques and the ability to show your workings
  • Make it better, not the best
    • Deliver what is needed now, take the benefit, then improve again

So next time you are involved in a Lean improvement activity, don’t forget that this isn’t the only opportunity to make your improvements. Scope appropriately and deliver only what is needed. Overproduction is a waste after all, so try your solutions, learn and go again.

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