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Pursue Repeated Breakthroughs in the Same Area for the Fastest Improvements

Dec 24, 2007
Want to zoom ahead faster than anyone? Breakthrough management practices can provide the answer. Develop that skill and repeatedly apply it to the same performance area, and you'll be flying ahead with improvements at breakneck speed.

Here's an example. An insurance company wanted to speed its time to process claims and cut its costs. The head of information technology was delighted when she improved performance by 20 times with the same time, effort, resources, and costs. Just a few months later, she reviewed her breakthrough solution and realized she could again improve performance by another 20 times with a solution she had never considered before. Her company went from losing money and market share to gaining industry leadership and high profits.

To accomplish 20 times as much with the same time, effort, resources, and cost, you need to learn and continually use all eight steps of the breakthrough solution process in the correct order.

The steps 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.


"Practice makes perfect." We learned to walk by taking more and more tottering steps before we fell. We learned to write by copying each letter many, many times. Doing is the best way to learn. Imagine trying to read a book to learn how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle.

Achieving 20 times progress also requires repetition. When you reexamine the same process and improvement opportunity, you will uncover new and better ideas with each repetition of the first seven steps of the eight-step breakthrough solution process.

The gains from such repetitions can be staggering because they usually multiply onto a higher performance base. Here's an example. Imagine that you just created a way to expand revenues by 20 times from the current level. On the next reexamination of that opportunity, you might find a way to increase revenues by an additional 200 percent from the 20 times improved base. That seemingly more modest increase would be equal to double the entire gain from the first breakthrough solution!

Many times, reexamination leads to larger absolute gains during the repetition than during the initial examination. Naturally, when a breakthrough solution is reached on top of the first breakthrough solution, you've turned a 20 times gain into a 400 times gain. Think of the opportunity to reexamine such an area for a third time.

If you have wisely chosen to work on your highest potential opportunity, this upside potential shouldn't surprise you. It's also unlikely that any other opportunity will be as large as reexamining what you just finished.

When people first create and implement a breakthrough solution, most will opt not to reexamine the same area for at least five years. That's a big mistake! In most cases, you can start reexamining the opportunities right away and come up with big gains. By looking for more opportunities sooner, you'll build on the momentum of what you learned in the first iteration as well as deepen your understanding of the opportunity.

There are valuable, related benefits from such repetition. Each success will increase commitment to creating breakthrough solutions while geometrically expanding the resources available to pursue new solutions. With practice, the breakthrough solution process becomes easier, more productive, and faster.

At some point, creating breakthrough solutions will become part of your corporate culture. As a result, you'll have even more good habits to help performance when you're not working on breakthrough solutions. You'll also notice and start working on large opportunities sooner.

When the breakthrough solution process has been accepted into your organization's culture, you will benefit from having a powerful common language, thought process, and capability for improvement.

To accomplish this desirable result, your organization's leader must create an expectation that creating breakthrough solutions is the new standard of what must be accomplished. With that focus, the leader's words become thoughts throughout the organization. The thoughts become ideas. The ideas become actions. The actions become new habits. The new habits are reinforced and improved by experience and success. The new habits upgrade the culture. Repetition strengthens, deepens, and widens the impacts of each of these reinforcing mechanisms.


The main issue for you is reinforcing repetition of the eight-step process. Skip this step, and you will lose almost all of the potential benefit of using what you have learned in this book.

Here is your assignment:

1. Make everyone aware that the eight-step process will be repeated in the same area, again and again.

2. When the process is begun, set early dates to start repeating the process.

3. Set dates to begin the eight steps in other important management processes.

4. Set dates to begin repeating the eight steps in those other important management processes.

5. Add to your organizational ability to use the eight-step process through improved capabilities such as:

- More measurement capabilities to spot unperceived ways to improve

- Better ability to identify cause and effect

- Increased access to organizations with best practices you can use

- Faster learning from other organizations

- Improved forecasting of future process improvements

- Enhanced conceptualization of the ideal best practice

- Effective planning for more quickly approaching the ideal best practice with contained costs, while moving rapidly into new opportunities opened up by nearing the ideal best practice

Make a copy of this assignment and put it near your work telephone so that you will see the assignment every time you make or receive a call and be reminded to take these critical actions.
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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