You will make far greater progress towards your ideal state if you focus on small achievable improvements, says Roger Martin in this video excerpt from a recent WLEI podcast. Martin is the author of the new book When More Is Not Better, and his pragmatic comments echo the lean ethos of kaizen, or continuous improvement, that constantly raises the bar. Find a lightly edited transcript below.
Roger: “Well, one thing I would just say that we didn’t really touch on is this idea that the best way to make something better is not to seek perfection. I think that the lean folks would agree, right? Which is, if you’re seeking perfection, you’re going to try grand strokes. You’re going to be frustrated. If instead you say, ‘I’m just going to improve a little bit, just a little bit,’ this is like Warren Buffet and the power of compound interest.
If you can improve bit by bit, and you’re always improving a little bit, you are going to get closer to perfection than by saying, ‘I want the perfect answer.’ This is the thing that I would say for public-policy makers: just knock it off. Stop trying to say, ‘we have the all-the-singing, all-the-dancing answer to this problem. We’re going to fight about it for years and years and years and in conference committees.’ Just say that we think we can put this tweak in place, and it’ll improve it. Then, when that seems to work, tweak it some more and tweak it some more and tweak it some more.”