Forget Perfect, Let’s Focus on Better

In the health care sector, patients, families, friends and colleagues certainly support the pursuit of perfection. Everyone knows we need to keep trying to climb that mountain.

My worry is that in this pursuit, we continue to skip the required steps and end up repeating the same mistakes. We find ourselves seeking immediate solutions because we for some reason cannot afford to take the time to solve to the root causes of these very real problems.

We find ourselves having to “get it right” without fully understanding how we “got it wrong”.

We know that the scientific method is a proven, valid and necessary activity to identifying why we “got it wrong”. When done well, it involves those closest to the real issues and draws on their knowledge, skills and experience to devise tests that reduce or eliminate the identified root causes.

It asks those who do the work to improve the work. It tests data driven hypothesis generated by front line teams. It creates standards and standard methods that counteract the identified root causes.   It fosters engagement, challenges thinking and pulls forth the creativity of those with the most information.

Getting it right is absolutely the ultimate standard, but our target today, tomorrow and the next needs to be figuring out what is contributing to us “getting it wrong” and what we can do to “get it better”.

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4 thoughts on “Forget Perfect, Let’s Focus on Better

  1. Karl, thank you for the reminder. It’s all about having a culture of continuous improvement not “get it “perfect” now” or throw the baby out with the bath water when we don’t. Then we run to the next fire.

    1. Catherine, Exactly, the “all or nothing” thinking drives us to keep looking for the “right” answer the first time – iteration is a good thing. The old fail early, fail often is a mantra I just don’t think we are really comfortable with. – Karl

  2. Karl – thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree and see so often people letting “perfect be the enemy of the good’. Your comment that “We find ourselves having to ‘get it right’ without fully understanding how we ‘got it wrong” echos a story that David Meier shared at the Lean Coaching Summit last month that the outcome isn’t valuable unless we know how we got there. I wrote about this as it was one of the key standouts for me: http://kbjanderson.com/lean-coaching-summit-2015-notes-and-reflections/

    1. Katie, Thanks for the link back to David Meier’s comments: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how you got there.” My take away is that we aren’t slowing down long enough to learn and therefore the small problems continue to reoccur and potentially grow into larger problems taking up even more of our scarce time in the day. This takes me back to designing standards in our calendars for setting aside small chunks of time for improvement, reflection, problem solving, etc. – Karl

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