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Combine Individual and Group Perfection to Make the Most Valuable Breakthroughs

Dec 24, 2007
What do you get when you combine individual perfection with organizational flawlessness? It's a partnership made in heaven for making the greatest breakthroughs in performance improvements.

Individuals are good at maximizing their perspectives. Put enough individuals together whose views complement one another, and you've created an unbeatable way to scan for perfect performance. You see that approach optimized in projects to develop collective software, such as Linux. More innovations occur, and fewer errors are missed in the process.

Capture this way of organizing work, and you'll soon be accomplishing beyond your wildest dreams . . . while working less.

Let me put this message in context: It's an important lesson for those who want to make lots of breakthrough solutions (ways of accomplishing 20 times more with the same time, effort, and resources).

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 accomplishing step five.

Combine Perspectives from Individual and Organizational Ideal Best Practices in New Ways

Of all the approaches to identifying ideal best practices, this one is the most powerful because it allows you to build on individual strengths in nearing perfection to create new dimensions of group strengths. You'll be delighted with what this perspective can help you accomplish.

Here's an example to explain what I mean: Individuals are very good at remembering to put fuel into their vehicles. Rarely will you see a vehicle stranded for lack of fuel.

Why? If you run out of fuel far away from a fueling station where there's no cellular telephone reception, you may have a long walk to fill and carry back a heavy container. The process may waste an hour or more.

Also, if you run out of fuel when it's very cold, this exposure can be dangerous. Some people are probably worried about being robbed while going to and from the station.

Most vehicles have fuel gauges that are reasonably accurate in letting drivers know when more fuel is needed. As a result, there's not much reason to run out of fuel.

Groups are exceptionally good about using up supplies that their organization provides.

Why? There's no barrier. If you need it, you take it. There's no cost to you.

Groups may not be nearly as good about remembering to order more when supplies dwindle.

Let's assume now that you want to lower costs more rapidly in your organization. How might these two principles be combined?

Let's start with the individual tendency to want to have enough. You might appeal to that instinct by tying salary and wage increases to achieving cost improvements above a certain target and letting everyone know on a daily basis how cost reductions are going. Those who want to be sure to have a decent income increase will be monitoring the information and taking action.

There's a problem though. Many people may not feel like they have the knowledge or time to work on faster cost reductions.

You could provide free breakfasts and lunches to those who were willing to attend training sessions to learn more about creating and implementing better cost reductions.

Your organization could also provide a hotline people could call to get advice on how to develop their cost-reduction ideas. The tendency for organizations to use free resources would accelerate learning.

By comparison, most organizations disqualify almost everyone in the organization from being able to work on cost reductions. Only managers, supervisors, and engineers may be given the leeway.

Yet the best ideas often come from outside those perspectives. Cost reduction is clearly one of those places where more heads work better, but the task has to engage everyone in helpful ways.

For better results, you can combine even more near-perfection perspectives. You might use four individual and three group principles to identify the potential for an astonishing breakthrough practice.

To provide further opportunity, build a list of 100 individual and 100 group instances of near perfection. With experience, you'll locate even more helpful perspectives that can be applied to achieving breakthroughs.

Spread the Word

Share your ideas about how to combine individual perfection and organizational flawlessness with members of your family and people at work. Tell them what you have learned. Coach them in how to devise their own solutions.

The following questions will help you focus on the right steps:

1. How can you interest others in pursuing ideal best practices by sharing your experience in intriguing ways?

2. How can you help other people work through the process of identifying ideal best practices?

3. How can the value of this new way of thinking be spread even further by encouraging those you've helped to coach others?
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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