Often times, we’re told to walk before we run, take baby steps, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Surely, there is a time and place for all of this advice, if you want to learn the art of sword swallowing, I’d head those warnings. If you want to practice continuous improvement in the work place, why would you hold back? I’m not going to tell you to recklessly swing a kaizen sledge hammer, but I personally believe that the best thing that you can do is to start by deeply understand the problem and then imagine the absolute perfect condition as if anything were possible. I want you to really stretch on this one, ignore the laws of physics, forget about reality, what if the most brilliant people that ever walked the planet were to be given an unlimited amount of resources? What do you think they would they do?
I’m sending positive vibes your way in hopes that the perfect condition is possible, but most of the time, reality is going to rear its pragmatic head. So what now? Actually, this is the easiest and the most effective part: Take baby steps…..but backwards! Starting with the image of perfection in your head, what’s the next closest thing to that picture? Is that possible to implement? If not, back up one more step. Keep repeating this until you get to a point that the solution is something you can pull off. I’d even go back to the previous idea just in case you were too quick with the “No” button. If you can’t have the absolute perfect condition, back it up until you get to a feasible solution. This is where you want to set your target.
So if you are ever advised to take baby steps, I’d suggest you do it starting from the impossibly perfect and baby step back. Imagine how many baby steps it would have taken you if you would have started from where you were at.. Problem solving requires resources and since we are here to remove waste, don’t waste time, energy or money under-challenging yourself by taking the easier road, take the most effective one.
I’d like to challenge you to try this during the next few days and share with me how it went. If you aren’t able to do this immediately, it’s ok. This technique does not come naturally to everyone, but I do believe it can be learned over time. The more you practice, the more natural it will become. If you’d like to e-mail me for advice, I’d be happy to help. If you are successful, please share a quick story in the comments.
Oh and by the way, we are going to talk a LOT about problem solving on this site, so please give me some ideas on what you would like to cover next. PDCA? Analysis techniques? 5 why, root cause, countermeasure?