“It is also your job to do your tasks with a mindfulness that they can be done better the next time. All it takes is noticing what was difficult, what required effort, what didn’t go as expected, and what could provide more value to the customer and your firm.”
Mindfulness is critical to any kind of performance improvement or innovation, and I believe it’s a huge area of opportunity for many work teams. It’s all about looking at something – a product or process – and seeing it with new eyes. In other words, approaching the project and the team with an open, questioning mind.
Think about how you manage the typical project. If it’s a type of project that you have handled before, chances are you approach it with some preconceived notions of how it should be accomplished. This allows you to get it done on mental autopilot, with little or no thought given to how to do it better, faster, more efficiently or with less waste. This mindset can be exacerbated if (like most knowledge workers) you have too much to do, and too little time in which to do it, or if you work within a culture that prizes action – getting things done – rather than questioning if you’re actually doing the right things.
If you and your work team slow down a bit and dissect the process or procedure you use to manage the project at hand, chances are you will see many opportunities to improve it. You may even discover opportunities to radically innovate it. This is something that the project team leader can embed into the group’s shared vision, objectives and measurements of success.
My compatriots in the Gang of Seven have posted several methods that you can use to do this. Norman Bodek recommends CEDAC, a type of cause-and-effect diagram that your project team can use to surface actual and hidden problems, and to brainstorm possible solutions. And Joe Ely outlines how a Project Poster can be used as a visual tool for the team to summarize its objectives, record metrics and collaborate around on a daily basis.
Here are some more resources on kaizen workgroups: