When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.
When I started in my role supporting the Minnesota Department of Administration’s Minnesota Office of Continuous Improvement team last year, I wrote about the history of my division and a look to the future. Since then, we’ve shifted our approach to work from primarily LEAN-focused ‘continuous improvement’ to solving problems that change lives. We’re creatively combining LEAN, Six Sigma, and human-centered design principles to best address making state government services more efficient and effective for all Minnesotans.
This past spring my team and I met with each of the 24 cabinet-level state agency leadership teams. We consistently heard from many agency leaders that deploying just LEAN Kaizen events wasn’t going to work in the future. We agreed and were already moving our work in a new direction. The conversation with state agency leaders and staffers typically included us saying, “You’re right, we used to deploy the LEAN methodology using Kaizen events….and now we are focused on the full cycle of solving a problem, from scope through implementation”. Done. Or so I thought…
Learn from the Past
Almost every week I get to share information about my awesome team and our problem solving work. Collaboration and sharing knowledge is in our DNA. These meetings are usually initiated by public sector teams in local, state, or federal agencies, within Minnesota and across the country. I start the meeting with introductions, then briefly discuss the history of my division, what we’ve done in the past, and how we are “doing things different now” and in the future. Why? If I described our work in the present and future, wouldn’t that be more compelling, and interesting? Discussing how we work hard to support the continuous improvement culture, capacity, and results for state government? Yes, yes it would.
Creating Space for the Future
Imagine if every time I found a new app for my smartphone, I first told you about the corded, rotary dial phones of the past, then cordless phones, then cell phones, and finally the about the new app on my current phone! That might have been important context when apps were new, but they’re not.
When you’re the only one talking about the past, you may be the only one thinking about the past. Are you holding yourself, your team, your organization in the past because you keep telling yesterday’s story? Start TODAY by talking about your exciting future. That’s what we all want to hear!