Small Steps

Using the old baseball metaphor, I often counsel my clients to stop looking for the “out of the park” home runs.  While the big hits are not only exciting, and move you forward quickly, they don’t come along often and the gains made are not necessarily easy to sustain.

Instead, you will hear me harp regularly on the benefits of “bunts and singles”; i.e.   frequent and small steps in improvement.  This is the often heard “elephant one bite at a time” story line.

The relentless leadership challenge is that this kind of thinking is not very attractive.  It’s not “shiny”, so it doesn’t attract any attention.  It’s not fast, so we need to stop constantly checking for results.  It’s not right the first time, so we have to figure out how to begin embracing mistakes being made.

The good news is that this kind of thinking is nothing more than the application of the scientific method.  PDSA a problem by identifying the gap, seek to understand the root causes and the biggest contributors to the gap.  Create a hypothesis, test it and study the results.  If the gap is reduced, standardize the process and take on the next biggest root cause contributor.   If the gap is not reduced, then back to the drawing board and go again!

If every leader and every employee in your organization did this relentlessly, with every problem encountered, can you imagine where your organization would be in a year?

“Success will never be a big step in the future; success is a small step taken just now.”  ~ Jonatan Martensson


2 thoughts on “Small Steps

  1. An excellent reminder of the need to keep focused on the small changes, learn from them and move to the next…we keep trying and regularly getting off the path …thanks for this boost. Susie McDonald

    1. Susie, Thanks for the reply. I think that designing and staying with good daily leader standard work, regular gemba, good visual management, etc all support keep each of us on the path. Keep up the great work that you and your teams are leading. – Karl

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