How Can I Possibly Focus on...Everything? (Part 1- A Revelation)

In the world of Performance Improvement (PI), it appears we’ve worked ourselves into quite a ‘pickle’.

While doing my research for our latest Special Report (REPS: Next Generation Performance Improvement), I came to a stark realization- in spite of massive resources being spent on training and performance improvement (more than $300 Billion per year), most organizations STILL totally AREN’T ‘getting it’.

The current landscape of PI is hewn with tremendous energy, lots of money being spent, and many smart dedicated people working really hard to make things better.

Unfortunately, stressors remain high. Little synergy is being achieved. Lots of money is being wasted, with purely incremental (if any) ROI to show for it. And this at a time when external, regulatory, and societal challenges are demanding near ‘perfection’.

Depending upon the size of your organization, you probably have a Safety Department and a Quality Department. You most likely employ a cadre of people whose jobs encompass or include various PI functions, like the folks with the belts (Six Sigma / LEAN specialists), someone who coordinates or manages error reduction and/or “human performance”, and an individual who tracks and trends your metrics and KPIs. You might even have a “Corrective Action” Department, and someone in charge of “self-assessments” (or at least a specialist or two).

When you look at all of this in toto, I have to ask, in the words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

It would seem, with so many people working so hard to improve performance, life should be good, operations easy, metrics and KPIs…all nicely lined in a row and ever-improving. 

But such is rarely the case.

Instead we ride a roller coaster of dysfunction, playing endless tug-o-war between opposing priorities as our metrics and KPIs wag us about.

What to do?

In truth, there are four arenas of importance that every organization on the planet must focus upon: Reliability, Efficiency, Productivity, and Safety.

These are the four. That's it.

Get these firing on all cylinders and you’re undoubtedly top of your industry.

Unfortunately, because of how Performance Improvement (and so-called best practices) have evolved, in many cases we have (and continue to) ‘shoot ourselves’ in our proverbial feet. PI professionals, often disconnected from one another within organizations, are unintentionally generating additional stressors and costs.

Consider, for example, two of the must have arenas: Safety and Performance.

From a perspective of direct focus, these priorities are diametrically opposed.

You [very] likely have Corporate, the Finance people, the Marketing folks, and the ‘belts’ (my affectionate term for Six Sigma and LEAN professionals) working hard to do everything possible to meet milestones and increase productivity.

At the same time, the Safety folks are busting their butts to overcome the resulting perception of time pressure, and the inherent tendency for workers to take more risk and ‘cut corners’ in order to meet metrics and schedules.

Of course, Safety AND Production are BOTH necessary.

BUT...you can't focus upon everything, so...what are you to do?

First of all, STOP relying upon hope.

Second, consider this graphical representation:

This (REPS) matrix reveals the two sets of diametrically opposed priorities in your organization: Safety vs Production, and Reliability vs Efficiency.

The first step in any true process of redemption and transformation is admitting you have an issue.

What's yours?

For now, I invite you to download our just-released Special Report, REPS: Next Generation Performance Improvement. Within that report is a self-diagnostic. Once you complete it, you will have a graphical representation of your Performance Culture (where you currently are), and with your Priority Bias, which is a predictor of where your organization is headed if nothing changes.

You can access the Report, completely Free, HERE.

While you can’t possibly ‘focus on everything', it’s high time to stop simply hoping that things will ‘all work out’.

In Part 2 of this Blog Series, I’m going to show you a simple approach for eliminating conflicting priorities. Be watching. It’ll be out in the next few days.

Thanks for all you are doing to help make our world a better and safer place!

P.S. In the world of PI we really are 'all in this together'.  In addition to downloading the Special Report, please help 'the cause' by offering your thoughts and perspectives in the Comments section below.

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