The Power of Small Steps

In a training class I was delivering last week one of the buyers expressed frustration about the time and effort that was going to be required to implement a change across her supply base.  She understood the current state, knew where she wanted to go and had a realistic view of the time and effort that the change would require.

I think that many of us share her frustration when implementing change.  Sometimes when we think about the current state and think about the future state, frustration occurs because we know the implementation will be long and filled with obstacles.  However, we also know that the change is beneficial and we want to reach the end goal.

When I am in this situation, I think about a quote from the great basketball coach John Wooden:

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur…. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.”

If you find yourself suffering from implementation frustration I suggest the following:

  1. Reflect upon the desired state you want to achieve. What will it be like when you get there?  What pain will be gone?  What will your sense of accomplishment be?
  2. How can you measure progress towards the goal? You will need some way to determine if the steps you are taking are leading to improvement.
  3. Identify actions that can be taken to move you to the desired state. How much time and effort will be required for each action and how much will it move you towards the desired state?
  4. Start implementing the actions leading on the ones with the most improvement opportunity and least effort.
  5. Measure the impact the actions are having in moving you closer to your goal.
  6. Celebrate successes.
  7. When you get frustrated because things are not going fast enough return to step 1.

Finally, remember that involving others increases your chances of success and will lead to you setting higher goals.

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