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By Michael Angier

Raising the Bar - Part 2

Last time, we talked about increasing our belief in what's possible and about the benefit of associating with people and organizations with high standards.

In this lesson, we begin to take action to increase our standards.

You can't get where you want to go unless you know where you are. Taking a hard look at ourselves, our team, our product and our organization may seem like a daunting task. But if we want to create excellence, if we're truly committed to raising the bar, we have to be willing to look at what's true.

What's not excellent?
A great way to accomplish this is to hold WNE meetings. These are meetings with the goal to list everything that's less than excellent.

The big things often get our best attention, but it's the LITTLE things that add up to the big things.

One place to start is customer complaints. If the people we serve have made complaints, that's valuable feedback and usually a clue as to what's not excellent. One complaint may represent hundreds of others who didn't take the time to complain—but also won't buy again.

Who does it better?
Look at your competition. We can learn from what others are doing. What do they do better than we do? How do they do that? And why DON'T we do it as well?

It's not that we're trying to be just like them, but we can always learn from others.

Is that the best we can do?
This should be the ongoing question on everyone's lips. Constantly questioning what we do, how we do it and how we can do it better creates a culture of CANI—Constant and Never-ending Improvement.

Brainstorm solutions
No problem or goal can withstand the onslaught of focused, solution-oriented ideas and execution. When people come together and are inspired to create something exceptional, then extraordinary results can be created.

For brainstorming with myself or others, I like to use the IWWCW question. IWWCW stands for, "In what ways can we . . .?" In what ways can we do it faster, safer, at less cost, with fewer steps, with greater precision, etc. There's always more than one solution and by staying in the question, you'll come up with many ideas.

Start with a short list
It's almost impossible to change everything at once, so it's best to concentrate on those things that will have the greatest impact upon our mission. What increase in standards will create the most value?

Action Point
Find a handful of things upon which you can focus and go to work on them. Benchmark where you are and measure your progress. The mere act of measuring and monitoring seems to cause an increase in quality.

For more about metrics, article at . . .






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Last Updated 12/08/2004