Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Introspective: Follow-up to Kaizen Questions

I recently wrote a blog post about Asking Kaizen Questions. I saw an example of what may be considered Kaizen Questions on our KAT Board the other day. Let me explain.

We have a large glass board furnished with neon dry erase markers on one of our hallway walls. I don't know what it's official name is, but I call it the KAT Board because it is periodically erased and seeded with one or more questions from our CIO, Karenann Terrell (or KAT for short). Here's the question she posed earlier this month:

"What do you hope to accomplish in 2014?" -- KAT
Once the question is posed, everyone is encouraged to grab markers and write their responses. The other day I walked by and saw this:

"Excellence always. If not excellence, what? If not excellence now, when?"
I saw that and thought, "What excellent examples of Kaizen questions!" They provided a challenge to the status quo and some sense of urgency. I liked it, but I thought it was missing something. I'll come back to that.

Over the past week, I've seen varying levels of engagement at the personal, team, and domain levels, particularly with regard to Agile. As thrilling and exciting as it is to see someone pick Agile up and own it, it is equally frustrating to see someone wait for the organization to transform around them before they decide to act. To take it a step further, it is necessary for each person within a company to own the company's success. If they don't feel that they have a voice or don't see the importance of using that voice, they will eventually outlive their usefulness. Companies with engaged and empowered associates will pass up those whose employees are just there to take orders and get a paycheck.

So I went back to the board and added another question to help deepen both the sense of urgency and personal accountability.

"If not us, who?"

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