You’ll Never Improve if You’re Married to Your Ideas

Throughout my hospitality career, I’ve heard countless managers say, “That’ll be ok, it will work” or “Let’s do it this way, try it. What do you have to lose?“. Or my favorite one… “I know what I’m talking about, trust me“. But when I question their plan or point out ways the plan may not work out as intended, I’m asked why I’m being so “negative”. I respond by saying, “Why are you married to your ideas? Don’t you want to hear another viewpoint? Let’s look at the plan some more, ok?”

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Listen, we all need a plan. But plans aren’t foolproof, nor is the person who came up with it.

The more input we get from various sources the better our plan will be – or at least it’s more apt to be successful.

Mistakes Happen

Life, and business, isn’t perfect and mistakes happen. But I will not accept mistakes that are of my own doing or that I allowed to happen – because I failed to plan for the inevitable. When I know my options and what to do in times of need or to correct a fault, I’m more confident in my abilities to service the customer. And you should be more confident too.

  • When you’re married to your ideas you can’t learn, can’t grow, and certainly can’t add to your experience book.
  • When you’re married to your ideas you alienate others by being too close-minded.
  • When you’re married to your ideas you tend to think your thoughts are what’s best for others. NOTE: They may not even be best for YOU.

Have an Action Plan

We must run through all possible scenarios of any plan to develop corrective action as needed when needed, and if it doesn’t work. I won’t take an action when I know from experience it won’t work.

Micah Solomon, in his recent book “Ignore Your Customers (and They’ll Go Away)“, called himself a “professional fault finder”. That hit home for me because I look at myself the same way. For me to improve, I must find the faults in my system. Once they’re identified I can go about correcting them.

I also teach my team to look at things the same way. “Walk” your employees through your thought process of why you do something a certain way. Tell them why it’s better this way versus that way. Explain who benefits from doing it this way and how these actions help the customer AND the company.

Your team must see the faults in your system, and the benefits of correcting them, before they’ll willingly do as asked and without hesitation. Click To Tweet

Steps of Service Plan

Here is a great way to find the “fault” in any system. Create a “steps of service” plan. In a way, it’s like “journey mapping” but instead it focuses on all the specific steps needed to complete any given task.

Example:

Next time you go to your favorite restaurant, try to think of all the individual steps the server makes during your stay. I promise it’s much more than simply greeting you at the table and taking your food orders.

I have created restaurant steps of service plans with 45 individual steps for a lunch service and almost 90 steps for dinner. When you break down every single action an employee must take to service a customer, you’ll easily see areas in need of improvement or which steps are redundant and can be removed. This allows for an improved and streamlined service experience – one that may not be possible without such a plan.

Let’s delve further into some continuous improvement tools and methodologies as told by the Rever Team.

PDCA

The PDCA cycle (short for plan, do, check, act) provides a systematic approach to testing different ideas and hypotheses. It can help you to implement continuous improvement throughout your organization using a structured framework. If you want to improve business processes, efficiency, or productivity, then the PDCA cycle can help.

PDCA stands for:

  • Plan – define your strategic goals and how you’ll achieve them.
  • Do – implement the plan and make any changes required to ensure it works.
  • Check – evaluate the results and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Act – make adjustments based on what’s found in the previous step.

Gemba Walks

When it comes to continuous improvement tools, Gemba walks can be particularly powerful. They enable you to tap into the most valuable resource a company has: its people. The most innovative improvement ideas often come from the employees who are working on the front line and problem-solving daily. They have an in-depth understanding of their particular area of the manufacturing process and can provide potential solutions.

Smart managers understand that the best way to capture these valuable insights is to get out of their offices and into the ‘Gemba’. This is the place where things actually happen, such as manufacturing or product development. Gemba walks involve interacting with staff on an informal basis at the location where they do their work (as opposed to a meeting room). It enables observation of real-life situations or the actual production process so that leaders have a better idea of things that are happening.

Regular Gemba walks also develop better employee relationships and a greater focus on continuous improvement. They provide a framework for regular interaction and create a habit of consistent feedback collection.

5 Why’s

The 5 why’s is one of the best continuous improvement tools for root cause analysis. It can help you to identify the source of a problem and see beyond the superficial issue. By asking ‘why’ several times in a row, you can dive deeper into the heart of a problem. This enables you to them come up with potential solutions that accurately address it instead of just treating the symptoms. It also helps teams to move past apportioning blame or finger pointing to find the real issue.

RELATED POST: 23 Service Improvement Tactics That Work (Number 4 Is My Favorite)

Using the 5 why’s technique can also help you to determine the relationships between cause and effect. Businesses may find that they need to ask ‘why’ a few more times or a few less to get to the root of an issue. It’s a powerful method for getting to the heart of an issue and identifying improvement opportunities. But it doesn’t facilitate the implementation of any ideas or provide a structure for coming up with solutions. It’s intended to help businesses get to the real issue instead of being distracted by superficial answers.

Too many people are married to their ideas and aren’t willing to listen to another point of view. But it’s impossible to improve without evaluating our performance and getting feedback from others. The next step is putting what you’ve learned to use and act.

Great leaders know this. Innovators know this. Developers know this.

And so do you!

This post first appeared on the author’s website and is republished here with permission.

Copyright ©2020 Steve DiGioia

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