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Zoom Toward Accomplishing Breakthrough Goals

Dec 24, 2007
For many years, no one believed that a human being could fly faster than the speed of sound. Yet lots of natural objects go at that speed all of the time. An optimist would have concluded that such acceleration was in mankind's future.

But actual experience proved to be troubling: Aircraft began to vibrate and shake apart as they neared the speed of sound. Would anyone make the breakthrough?

Yes! But you had to believe that it was possible and set appropriate actions in place to solve the vibration problem. Today a supersonic jet doesn't feel any different as you near or exceed the sound barrier: It's all a matter of design.

The steps for creating a breakthrough solution are listed here:

1. Understand the importance of measuring performance.

2. Decide what to measure.

3. Identify the future best practice and measure it.

4. Implement beyond the future best practice.

5. Identify the ideal best practice.

6. Pursue the ideal best practice.

7. Select the right people and provide the right motivation.

8. Repeat the first seven steps.

This article looks at practicing to become more effective in step six.

Think about several ways that you would like to get perfect results with minimal effort. Then select one or more of those opportunities to implement. In making this choice, be sure to evaluate your organization's track record or your personal history for successfully making similar changes and other ways you can reduce risk.

Set Your Sights on the Stars

To select which opportunity or opportunities to pursue, first set an objective for each of your breakthrough solutions. Make the objective neither too modest nor too aggressive. Typically, a 20 times improvement is a mere threshold goal. You can probably reach a 40 times improvement with little more effort.

Make sure, too, that you will frequently realize some benefits along the way to your ultimate goal.

With those breakthrough objectives in mind, look for the best balance of benefits, costs, resources, and time to completion to select the breakthrough solution choice or choices you should pursue for approaching an ideal best practice.

Eenie, Meenie, Mynie, Moe

In any quest for the ideal best practice, think of at least four possible ways to reach the goal. When attempting such important breakthroughs, your chances of success are greatly increased by simultaneously pursuing several planning paths. Otherwise, a stumble on one path blocks the whole project.

Studies have also shown that if you design four ways to do something, the final cost will usually be about a third less than if you design only one way. If instead you find eight ways of doing something, costs will come down even more, but only by a maximum of an additional 15 percent. There is a point of diminishing returns on designing alternate plans, but you probably will run out of good ideas before you reach that limit.

I recommend that you begin with and focus on the simplest approaches. This direction will limit false starts and save much time and money.

Benefit Along the Way

Choose to gain benefits every six months or so. These progress steps will keep project participants from becoming bored and those who are funding the project encouraged.

What's a reasonable target? In most cases, you should be able to make at least a 10-fold improvement in six months or less. The exceptions come in areas that require extensive software development.

With this approach to targeting regular benefits, you'll keep morale high, everyone will be excited about implementing more improvements, and you'll avoid biting off more than you can chew.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is coauthor of six books including The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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