by Subir Chowdhury
How do you ensure success? Start by enriching your actions.
I was at a gas station and saw a sign that claimed that the fuel was “enriched” with a chemical additive that would make my car run cleaner and more efficiently. My wife bought food that was also enriched; fortified with vitamins and minerals that added nutritional value.
Many products undergo some enrichment to make them more appealing with a little value-added performance boost. To enrich ourselves, we add a skill or knowledge that improves, develops, and enhances our performance. As it turns out, every experience and opportunity can be enriched.
I have found that in the effort to achieve quality, the enrich process one of the most dynamic. It encompasses two intents: (1) to help make products and services better; and to (2) introduce greater quality into the processes that impact everything we do. The real question is, where to begin?
There are always practical limits to improvement. For instance, there is no enrichment if in the attempt to improve, you disrupt operations or delay plans for weeks at a time. I’ve seen managers get carried away with frequent indoctrinations and lectures. Extra processes tend to interfere with front-line productivity. The more you pull people away from regular assignments, the longer it takes for them to get back up to speed. On the other hand, there is little to be gained by doing anything if there is minimal impact. Where is the balance?
You may find that you can enrich your process simply by adopting an enthusiasm toward finding better, yet-to-be-discovered alternatives for your present situation. For the people around you, lead by example; walk the talk and demonstrate (through your actions) what you expect to achieve.
I have three guidelines to help you drive a goal-centered enrichment process. They come as three questions to help you stay focused on enriching your actions:
- Do you have a clear understanding? Do you have all the information that you need? If not – seek more.
- Are you thinking differently? Resist the urge to reach for solutions that you’ve tried in the past. Turn to your team with a blanket ‘no-blame, all-ideas-welcome’ policy and release the creativity.
- Are you settling for less or aiming for the best? Be adventurous, but be realistic: sometimes the best solution is the easiest one.
Don’t be surprised if people around you quickly adopt your new approach. When they do, remember this is how the re-acculturation process begins. The more consistent you are with this mentality – the more people will join you. Soon, you’ll experience feedback from everyone around you as they begin to embrace a quality mindset.
This is different than an indoctrination or a lecture, isn’t it? You may want to bring everyone into a room to signal the start of the change, but keep it short with something like: “Today, we will move beyond the status quo and reach for continuous improvement.”
Request commitment from everyone that everything that they do today is simply not good enough. Remind your team that the change is a strategic move and that everyone must play a significant role. Then remind yourself that enriching quality begins with you.