Don Khouri Blog

Be Productive -- Get Better Every Day

Posted by Don Khouri on Mon, Mar 01, 2010

Produce results, and get better every day -- I would like to cover part 7 and 8 in this article.

The first, "produce results" is simple and straight forward.  At Fidelity and elsewhere, working hard is not enough.  You have to produce results and show the benefits of those results.  You want this attitude to be pervasive in everything you do, from running a meeting, to completing a project, to building your team.  Make sure you are getting results.  Make sure you are delivering the business value you committed to.  This is not just about delivering on time and on budget.  In fact, one project team I know actually measures their success based on how widely used the solution is.  You accomplish this by making sure you delivery the features identified up front.

Second, there is a productivity concept called Kaizen.  It is actually made up of two words.  "Kai" which means change, and "Zen" which means better.  Change for the better.Kaizen

This is a Japanese concept that was introduced during their quality revolution that took place in the 1950s.  The idea is this:  that you make small incremental improvements every day, get better every day.  This idea was built into the Fidelity culture from the top down.  After a trip to Japan in the 1980s, Mr. Johnson, came back so excited about it, that he started sharing with Fidelity associates any opportunity he got.

For example, after every software development project, successful or not, mission critical or not, big or small, the project team would have a project closure meeting with all the key players and ask two simple questions:  What worked well that we should continue doing?  What can we do differently next time that will make this better?

In one particular case, the project team questioned the reason for having two sequential requirement steps -- a business requirement process and a systems requirement process which created overlap and redundancy.  The result was to combine the requirement process which saved effort, time and money.  Fidelity does not settle for the status quo, there is always room for improvement, there is always a way to do it better, faster, cheaper. 

Another example, from my coaching work relates to what I have done with the agreement process.   I have improved my agreement process to include a coule of additional steps including building an alliance with the client around our interactions.

When the idea of continuous improvement is built into a culture, it can be very effective.  Kaizen is something you can use as a leader in your work and in your daily life. 

Don's Coaching Questions:

  • How close is your current project to producing the results you committed to?
  • What are you doing today to get better?
  • How can you best share the concept of Kaizen with your team?

Tags: productivity