The Best Improvements Start Today

When I was in college a professor said something that really stuck with me, “If you can’t do something right, then it’s not worth doing.” I knew right away, even then that this wasn’t right, so I dropped his class the next day. The trouble is that this type of thinking makes its way into everyday routine, not to mention how it infiltrates how we operate to support our business. When it does creep into the corporate culture we are left with the feeling that we would rather not fail, so we won’t try.

Not to despair, I also had a 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.

You might be thinking, who is really responsible for continual service improvements? While this seems to be an idea that we throw around in IT fairly often it really is everyone’s responsibility to make improvements to realize business value.

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 to drive value. For me I focus on 3 parts:

  • Understand current state
  • Communication
  • Keep it simple

An important part of any improvement journey is to understand the current state and where we want to end up. This is the start and end (sort of) of our story. To be able to achieve this we will need to employ some level of reporting to measure what we are going to do, what we are doing and what we have accomplished. This type of gap analysis will give us a good sense of what will be involved in achieving the improvements we have identified.

The other critical ingredient is always going to be communication. It would seem obvious, but that is part of the problem. Making assumptions is the kryptonite to improvements. Being transparent and collaborative in the improvement process is important so that everyone is moving in the same direction which makes improvement activities that much easier to accomplish.

Finally, to be successful at this we must keep this as simple as possible. We are not going to fix everything in one shot, so don’t try. Identify what timeline you want to be able to identify, implement and review an improvement, let’s say 3 months. So in your list of things to improve allot time to be able to identify, implement and measure the improvement within the three months.

Overall, we want to have things perfect, and we may not be comfortable with showing any imperfections that may make us look as though we aren’t perfect. Don’t worry about it. By simply committing to improvements we have an established a strategy for handling the challenges that come our way as well as a method to communicate with support and business stakeholders.

Doing this, even in small amounts today, will ensure that you and your business can make improvements over the long term.



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