Thursday, January 29, 2009

Take Note of What You Do Right Too!

Regardless of what business or profession we're in, most of us are our own worst critics. As a continuous improvement specialist, constantly working to get better is a blessing and a curse. While friends, loved ones and those that we conduct business with regularly can very easily espouse our virtues, strengths and finest qualities; we often look in the mirror and only reflect back the errors we make or what we need to improve about ourselves. Believe me I understand this and am one of the world's worst offenders.

So why is this so important? Because when making plans and conducting our day to day functions we sometimes are tempted to change what is already working and needs to remain the same. We could be doing a fabulous job of packaging a set of reports for our boss yet might feel it needs to be improved because we have ideas about how to make the package better. The reality is the boss might be perfectly happy with the reporting package and it may give him exactly what HE needs to do HIS job effectively.

I lived this in one consulting engagement where the company decided to implement a new enterprise software program. Though there were many benefits to the new software, one of the disadvantages was that many people hated the look and layout of the new reports. This department performed at a high level and the new reports didn't give them the information they needed on a day to day basis to effectively do their job and didn't look like their previous reports. I solved this by having some minor programming written to take the data and present it the way they preferred and with the information required for that department. Not only did it make the team very happy that they didn't have to re-learn the new software and reports, but it made them great advocates of the change in general. A happy department at a very small cost.

So be careful to test your clients, be they internal or external for changes that you are proposing based on your perception of yourself. Take care to know what you do well or what is working. How do you do it? As mentioned above, there are a myriad of people that know you very well, will be honest with you and have your best interests at heart. Surveying them is a good place to start. Consulting mentors and subject matter experts is another safe place to test what you are doing today against what you SHOULD be doing. Finally, ask your customers to tell you what is going well and what you could improve. They will appreciate you asking and it will show that you have their best interests at heart.

Now................go easy on yourself will you?

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