If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got…

...and the first sign of madness is thinking something will change.

Why am I writing this? Well very recently I moved from a phone that worked (i.e. it rang in and out) to a BlackBerry. It doesn’t do anything different to my old phone but eventually I’ll be able to send and receive e-mails in order to respond to your comments as quickly as possible.

I am in the process of setting it up and if there is anyone out there who has done it, you’ll know that it is quite a long process. One of the tasks required me to send my Lotus Notes address book. I dutifully followed the ‘procedure’ as sent by the Blackberry team. A standard e-mail reply came pinging back, “please send the correct file”. This time the ‘procedure’ included a screen shot. Strangely enough it looked like the method I’d used previously but being the good corporate citizen I am I went through the motions and off went the address book file. Ping! Back came the same standard reply, “please send the correct file” and another copy of the ‘procedure’. So, now I’m frustrated, and off goes an e-mail in response, “ring me and talk to me because I’m obviously doing something wrong” (or perhaps the procedure is faulty but I didn’t say that). Ping! Automated reply – “you cannot reply to this e-mail”; omg, as the young people say these days!

As I was just about to go overseas (the main reason for the BlackBerry – so that I can be safely in contact at all times) I gave up. Ping! Ping! Over the next week I had two more reminders (each with the procedure). On my return I thought I’d enlist our internal IT help desk. Using remote access they sent off my address book (using the same method I had used) and back came the standard response “please send the correct file”. This time the help desk guy was determined; he repeated the file transfer but followed up with BlackBerry, asked them not to “bother Mr Dyer” and deal direct with him. An hour or so ago he told me all is well, the fault was with the BlackBerry server and all I have to do is wait for the activation PIN.

Without his help, without him taking action and trying something different, I have a vision of the same e-mail arriving everyday for the rest of my career. When would they have given up and called me? Couldn’t they at least have provided a phone number so that I could ring them?

My point is (after all this rambling I do have a point) that how many other times have we seen people blindly following the same process, getting poor results, but doing nothing different. How often does it happen that we get so used to poor performances that we accept it as the norm and do nothing about improvement? Or get frustrated at a process or procedure but don’t try to change it because the process of change is too difficult? We all need to look at the way we do things and decide which of them have slipped, which need improvement and when we are going to tackle them because, if we don’t, they aren’t going to get better on their own.

In many Lean Organisations the phrase exists of “every one here has two jobs, their job and the job of improving their job”. That should be the mantra for us all.

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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