Last night, on one of the cable news shows, I was watching an interview with the star of the TV show, Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer, a long-time food and beverage industry consultant. Now you might be wondering what in the world does a food and beverage consultant have to do with continuous improvement? In today's posting, I want to discuss something that Mr. Taffer said in response to one of the interview questions he was asked.
When the interview began, there was a discussion about the results of Taffer's bar turn-around efforts and his list of accomplishments in this area. What I didn't know was that Mr. Taffer does not limit his turn-around abilities to only bars, but rather offers his advice and consulting skills to a wider range. His results are impressive to say the least.
During the interview, he was asked why he felt he was so effective executing his turn-arounds. Part of his response was, "If I can't change the way you (the bar owner) think, I can never change the way you operate." His response resonated with me in that the whole idea behind a successful continuous improvement effort is predicated on being able to change current operational behaviors. And if you can't change the way clients and organizations think, then you'll never be able to change the way they operate. People naturally resist change, but unless and until a change in thinking is made, things will remain as they currently are and the results will stay the same.
One of the subjects I've written about numerous times on this blog is the concept of system's thinking. It seems that the prevailing attitude about continuous improvement is to change/improve many things and that the sum total of these local improvements will result in a system improvement. For me, herein lies the problem with most improvement initiatives. Removing waste everywhere in the process may help companies achieve some additional throughput, but the reality is that throughput improvements will not occur until the system constraint has been identified and exploited. The unfortunate part is, most people don't think like this. So remember what Jon Taffer said, "If I can't change the way you think, then I can never change the way you operate." And this my friends, is the reason I write this blog.....to change the way you think.