Why we sometimes fail…
June 29, 2012 Leave a comment
I started this week with a blog on continuous improvements and why they sometimes fail. I felt like this was truly a good story speaking from experience and that this would be valuable or at least slightly interesting to anyone who is involved with some form of lean or continuous improvement system. Then as our week unfolded I started to see how the reasons for these failures translated to more than just these areas of business, in fact they might even apply to your daily life as well. Here is the summary of what I came to realize.
- You cannot just copy and paste a program into place. So many people read a book or take a course and feel that they have the answers. The truth is you must understand what your current situation is and where you want to go and adjust the plan to give you the best chance at success. If you do not know the starting point and the destination it is hard to create a map. The knowledge of the systems is important so please read the book and take the course but then make adjustments to suit your situation as what you were taught was generics.
- Yours and your people’s abilities must match the level of the plan as they impact your ability to succeed more than the plan does. The best laid plans often fail not because of lack of good planning but the lack of a well-trained or well prepared team. You need to start with you and your people and ensure they have the tools to succeed. Also realize that sometimes they may never be able to get there. If that is the case then you must make a tough decision and either change the plan or the people
- Culture accounts for as much as skill. You can have the knowledge, skills and ability but if you do not believe in the vision or the work it takes to get there then all the right things will be said but never accomplished. How many times have you tried to lose weight but cannot. It is a simple formula in purpose, eat healthy and exercise but we continue to fail, why? We do not have the true desire or willpower to reach our goal.
- Do not be afraid to fail and when you do learn from the experience. We did a whole article on this as it is very important. To continue to do the same thing and expect different results is the definition of insanity, which I think is Albert Einstein. This is not saying do not make mistakes, in fact they are necessary but take the time to figure out where it went wrong and adjust and adapt until you get it right. Many times we fail to record what we did and then repeat it later.
- The right person needs to be set to do the right job. I know this sounds a lot like number 2 but it is different. Many times companies promote someone because they are good at one task (i.e. sales) and the assumption is made that they will be successful in another and they are moved into a management role. In many cases it is determined they are not suited and either the person is gone or perhaps the company. Look for the skills that suit the position even if it means that a high achiever may not get the chance to move up.
- We are all leaders and followers. Leadership is not a one person job but everyone’s job at certain times. Yes, in some instances leadership is a full time task and that means setting direction, goals, coaching and all the other things that come with good leadership, but as individuals we have to take the responsibility to hit our goals, do our tasks and build our skills, and that is leadership as well. The same goes that if someone is an expert it is also important that you listen no matter your position because being a good leader sometimes means being a good follower.
We all fail or make mistakes and there are many reasons. I have listed a few that I have seen or experienced and am sure that you may have a few more. In order to improve however it is important to reflect back on why the shortcomings occurred. Did we set ourselves up for success or was the groundwork for failure laid out in implementation?