“The job of feet is walking, but their hobby is dancing.”— Amit Kalantri

Sometimes the necessity of change can seem onerous. But you don’t need to see improvement as a chore!  The following steps can help make positive change happen and help you have fun while you’re at it.

Focus on the why. The first step is to find personal reasons within the business imperative. For example, if you are a software development organization, a goal to “improve quality” is insufficient. Take the time to say why this goal is essential to the company and individuals. Let’s improve quality, so we get fewer angry comments on our twitter feed. We need to improve quality so we can spend more time doing imaginative new designs instead of chasing strange problems in the middle of the night.

Avoid improvement traps. New improvement efforts can get bogged down in a number of different traps. One of the most insidious of these is the “methodology” trap. For example, a methodology like MBSE (Model-Based Systems Engineering) or Scrum might be part of your improvement effort. However, many organizational improvement efforts fail because they pursue the dogma of the methodology and miss the principles underlying it. Take the time to add your ideas to the methodologies so that it is customized to solve your challenges.

Involve others. Exceptional leadership involves others. You move faster when your energy and passion are amplified by those around you. When you bring in the right people, you can make a party out of the journey to improvement.

Be passionately persistent. Change does not have to be hard or complicated but it does require doing something differently. What you have been doing has most likely made you and your organization successful in the past. This means that change can be scary even when it is clearly needed. Be persistent about the “why”. Be persistent about trying the change.

Celebrate the learning hiding in the journey.  Success and failure are both valuable. Whether you improved in the way you wanted to or found an idea that didn’t work, you have learned. Keep a forward focus and celebrate the learning adventure.

Rinse and repeat. Exceptional leaders don’t just create change; they generate improvement engines that run on the power of passion.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett
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