Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's the Single Biggest Obstacle to Improvement?

By Pascal Dennis

As you might imagine, I get this question all the time.

A number of answers come to mind, almost all of them related to how we think:

I've described dysfunctional 'mental models' in The Remedy and Getting the Right Things Done.

Here are some:
  1. We see problems are garbage to be hidden, as opposed to the system speaking to us,
  2. We see the leader's job as telling people what to do, as opposed to building capability
  3. We think we can manage from a distance, 'by the numbers', as opposed to getting our hands dirty in the gemba

But I'd have to say the biggest obstacle is a lack of persistence.

The ancients called if Fortitude -- mental and emotional strength in face of difficulty, danger, or temptation.

"It is difficulty which shows what people are." Epictetus tells us.

He was Roman philosopher who was born a slave and was beaten so badly he was crippled.

Out of adversity he fashioned a philosophy that moves us to this day.

We live in difficult times.

But are they tougher than what Epictetus faced?

So let's get on with it.

As another philosopher taught me, "Every day, a little up."

Best regards,


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