In our new book Leadership Is Language, we expose the language that anchors us to the past and map out six new plays for leaders to build a better workplace. The IMPROVE play happens at the end of a period of redwork and focuses on reflecting over the work we just completed and how to make it better. You will also want to run the IMPROVE play after a significant error in the process that needs to be understood. IMPROVE is the objective of the redwork-bluework operating system.
How to improve work in 5 steps.
1. Schedule “IMPROVE” time: Schedule a time to look over completed work. If you don’t schedule time to improve, it won’t happen. If you realize a room for improvement while in redwork, resist re-configuring your process, instead keep a log or whiteboard of improvement ideas.
2. Disable time pressures: Improving is bluework and does not respond to stress and fast-paced agendas. Stress depletes our ability to think. Set an amount of time that will aid in mental relaxation, not frustration.
3. Open to change: Start your IMPROVE play with open-mindedness. Ultimately, the purpose of learning and innovation is behavior change, so be open to change.
4. Detach judgement: The defending behaviors of the “be good” self actively inhibit and crowd out the seeking behaviors of the “get better” self. People are typically attached to their previous work and now we need to admit it could be done better. Now is the time to be a detached observer of what we have previously done. Learn more about the language of the “Be Good” self vs. the “Get Better”self in this free download here.
5. Use language that invites a mental focus that is: forward, not backward; outward, not inward; on the process, not people; and aims for excellence, not avoiding errors.
Try using one of these IMPROVE play phrases:
“What would we do differently next time?”
“What could we do to better serve our customers?”
“Let’s focus on what’s going right here that we can build on.”
“How could this be done better?”
Learn more by watching this Nudge – Leadership Nudge® 291 – Don’t Prove, Improve