The Surprising Power of Stopping to Begin Again

The longer you work at improving something –
the fewer improvements you make.

Gold Medal swimmers work unending hours shaving hundredths of seconds off their time. Not so, when they began swimming.

Improvement – at the beginning – is quick and easy;
excellence – over the long haul – is slow and hard.

Large organizations may have time and resources to grind for that last hundredth of second but medium and small businesses don’t.

Begin frequently:

Spend time beginning – move on – then begin again.

For example, you’re working on streamlining customer service. Make a few obvious improvements, stabilize those improvements and move on. Go to another challenge with the idea you’ll go back to improve customer service in a few weeks or months.

Excellence is a process not a destination.

Pursuit of excellence calendar:

  1. Stop wasting time on low impact activities, time is too precious.
  2. Grab low hanging fruit. Identify high potential areas for improvement; perhaps current pain points, emerging opportunities, or process improvements.
  3. Create an excellence-rotation calendar. January is customer service month and February is internal operations month, for example.
  4. Identify goals that move you toward excellence. Answer every call within three rings, for example.
  5. Determine and implement behaviors, processes, procedures, and technologies that achieve your goals.
  6. Work on it for a designated time. Urgency suggests shorter timelines are better than long.
  7. Evaluate, stabilize, and systematize improvements.
  8. Move to your next opportunity. Accept progress – reject the need for perfection.
  9. Return in a few weeks or months to evaluate and improve again.

Large organizations move forward on many fronts, simultaneously. “Stopping to begin again” enables smaller organizations to pursue excellence on many fronts, just not at the same time.

What modifications or additions can you make to these suggestions?