“If you can’t do something right, then it’s not worth doing,” was something a stern professor told me early in my college career. With this sage advice in front of mind, I rapidly dropped his class, knowing that this method of learning might not work out for me in the long run. The trouble is that this mode of thought makes its way into everyday routine, not to mention how it infiltrates how we operate to support our business. Unfortunately we are left with the feeling that we would rather not fail, so we won’t try.
On the flip side, I also had another professor who had a contrasting perspective on the subject. His philosophy was “that you will get nowhere until you take the first step”—a completely opposite thought process from the previous professor. The key, he outlined, was that after we get the ball rolling, we also need to ensure that we have time to learn from what we either didn’t get right or might have missed.
The first step is to come to terms with the fact that we won’t get it perfect. The second step is to move forward when we don’t.
This is where CSI (continual service improvement) comes into play. While we may not get everything perfect, we need to understand how the things we are working with impact business objectives. After all, if the improvements don’t truly support the business objectives, then getting time or resourcing to work on those initiatives will likely be next to impossible with people fighting for leftovers.
The next things to consider are current state and where we want to end up. This will likely involve some amount of reporting and communication on what we want to achieve. This type of gap analysis will give us a good sense of what will be involved in achieving the improvements we have identified in this step. The trick here is that with continual improvements we will never truly reach a final destination, so we need to timeline goals.
To be successful at this we must keep this as manageable as possible. I look at my reporting in weekly chunks so that the trend analysis can be adjusted accordingly. While I may be required to report monthly, I will have already identified any changes in the environment that I will need to report against. This reporting will let me see if we still have gaps in the improvement initiative, as well as whether we are achieving the goals we set out in the beginning.
Overall, we need to have transparency and inclusion of all stakeholders. This is where we may have some challenges. We want to have things perfect, and we may have issue with showing any imperfections that may make us look as though we aren’t perfect. Don’t worry about it. Look at this from the perspective—we have an established strategy in place for handling the challenges that come our way. We have included stakeholders from support teams who are impacted so that we are positioned to be nimble when any curve balls come our way. This will ensure that we will be able to manage all imperfections that we come across and improve service delivery.