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Steps to Improvement: Review

One of my guilty pleasures is the good old ‘underdogs succeeding against the odds’ type movies. Whether it is ‘Home Team’ the latest Netflix movie or classics like Mean Machine, Cool Runnings, Miracle on Ice or Remember the Titans. There is a great feeling as the little minnows come good and win through. Once the feel-good feeling has been peeled back you can see a key turning point in the movie when one person, usually a wisened old coach full of optimism and hope, has reviewed the team and found potential if they just can change the way they approach things. The key to success in that review is working out what the team already has that can be built upon and what is working well, as much as what needs to change.

Review is a key step for any improvement. In fact, it is the second of 4 key steps:

1. Responsibility

2. Review

3. Evaluate

4. Plan

Focus on what needs to improve

Any owner of a car over 3 years old knows that, each year, the car needs to undergo its MOT test. Each year when the car goes in for its test, you dread a failed results as the MOT tester reviews what is – and is not – working properly on the car. This is a crucial test to keep the car safe for you and for others. Improvement in any arena needs to start with a review, like an MOT test, to work out:

· What is Working Well (WWW)

· What needs to improve or be ‘Even Better If’ this was in place (EBI)

My brother owns an old 1970s MGBGT. When he bought it, he knew it needed restoration and so, as he peeled back the carpet, he analysed what metalwork was ok and what was too rusty and needed replacing. If we are looking to bring improvement in something we are leading, we need to do the same. We need to analyse ‘WWW’ and what could be ‘EBI’. Without this review on his old MGBGT, my brother could have left some rotten rusty pieces in and removed some good pieces. With our leadership improvement areas, we could do the same; miss things that need to be improved and cut things that were actually useful and important. The review helps you to focus in on the things that need addressing and where there could be improvement.

What’s working first

As we saw last week, the first step is owning the fact that things need to get better. There is a risk at this point to catastrophise and say ‘it’s all rubbish’. However, once you realise there are improvements to be made, the key thing is to start with what is working well. This allows you to not lose hope, but also to know the parts that can be built upon.

Skate, Flow & Dig

When my brother got his old car, he used this approach to work out what needed to improve.

· Skate – he skated around the car, taking a quick check of key things. Floor, sills, electric, engine.

· Flow – if he spotted a particular area, e.g., rust around the wheel arch or parts that could get wet, he then flowed along all areas that were in a similar position and could get wet.

· Dig – he then dug down deeper into these areas, peeled back carpets, removed wheel arch coverings, and so on.

This same approach is needed in our leadership.

· Skate – Skate over the organisation or area you are considering. Talk to staff, talk to customers, examine what people are doing. What is your hypothesis? What are you concerned about?

· Flow – Take your hypothesis, examine other parts like that. For example, if you saw the way customers are spoken to in reception, how are they spoken to in other parts of the building?

· Dig – if you have discovered an area of concern, dig deeper into the reasons behind it. What might be the cause for how customers are spoken to? Is it knowledge, skills, training issues or practical problems?

Underpinning all this review is curiosity. What can I discover here? What is happening? What impact is it having?

Can we help you?

Improvement can be hard. If you would like help reviewing and evaluating how you can improve something, coaching could help you. If you need someone from outside of the team to help you, Everyday Leader’s team of coaches can help you effectively work out what needs to be taken responsibility for, review and evaluate what needs to improve and support you in planning the improvement. Get in touch if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you and your team.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know if we can be of help to you. Contact us now:


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