In the last weeks, I ran an experiment on Linkedin. I posted two very similar images related to Continuous Improvement. Here are the results:
One post contained the message of “Small Steps”. This message got great traction that lasted for weeks. In a way, it is logical right? Even big innovations do not happen overnight.
I guess the message of small steps is very soothing for our ego mind. We can all do that right?
The second post contained the message of “High Aspirations”. This message got very little traction and interest faded within days.
I guess the message of high aspirations is somehow threatening to our ego mind. Do we really have what it takes?
Let’s go back for a moment to our great Continuous Improvement inspiration Toyota. In their “The Toyota Way 2001” booklet Toyota explains what their first pillar Continuous Improvement entails. Toyota uses words like Long-term Vision, Courage, Creativity, Dreams, Innovation, and Speed to describe Continuous Improvement.
To me, all these words are indicators of High Aspirations and, to my understanding, Toyota is pointing out its critical importance to Continous Improvement.
What is crucial to understand is that Small Steps have to be taken in the context of High Aspirations.
If you take small steps without a context of high aspirations, it is like taking a walk in the park. You are moving, but you are not getting anywhere.
Taking small steps in the context of high aspirations gives your steps direction. You quickly move beyond the confines of the park to, potentially, any place on earth or even beyond.
If your continuous improvement efforts are failing I estimate there is a 98.23% chance that a critical ingredient is missing: “High Aspirations”.