Isha Knill - Business Coaching
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Time to Re-Think Business

Isha Knill - Thursday, March 16, 2017


Is it time to have a Re-Think about the words Continuous Improvement?

Recently the topic of continuous improvement came up at our last Thriving Women Event.  As part of the discussion it was identified that business is really about continuous improvement with the message being that it's okay to keep improving, if anything it's a good thing, for which I totally agree.  However I did some reflecting the next day and decided that the problem with the word 'improvement' is that it implies that something is wrong i.e. if you haven't got it 'right' then it needs to be improved.

This is the part that I think we need to re-think and I say this for the following reasons:

Every business, (much like people), is doing the best it can where it currently is.    

The way we 'improve' is by opening our awareness.  We do this by looking at what others are doing so we can compare.  Or  by seeking support/advice from outside parties to help us to understand what we need to improve (and more importantly how we can improve).  

The problem with the word 'improving' is that when people feel they need 'improving' it's because they don't think they are good enough or haven't quite met the grade (whatever the grade is).  It leaves them feeling like they have failed in some way and has the potential to set up a negative cycle that can lead to a lack of confidence in their business ability because they can never get it 'right'.

The word 'improve' insinuates that we are missing or lacking something and we need to do something to get better - ultimately it is negative in it's messaging. Someone can't be criticised for not knowing what they don't know, they are doing the best with the information they have at their current level of awareness, so how can they be 'wrong'? 

I think instead of using the words 'continuous improvement' perhaps we need to start using the words 'continuous transformation' because transformation implies that we are continuing to grow and expand - it is positive and proactive in it's language and doesn't make one feel like they have failed but instead that they are continuing to learn and stretch.

I think too that continuous transformation helps people to realise that they don't have to get it 'right' instead all they have to be is open to growing.  If you think about it, life is about transformation, right from the time we are born we are continually 'transforming', it is in our nature to grow and expand.  

'Continually transforming', creates a positive thinking behind improvement and an acceptance that it's okay to keep on growing.  It's okay to not have it 'right' and it's okay to be a life long learner who is willing to keep on expanding their awareness so they are able to keep on stretching.

I realise that these are subtle play's on language and in essence both the words improvement and transformation are working towards the same goal - changing from where you currently are into something different but it's important to understand the way we as humans are programmed to interpret words; for example: 

Improvement is used when something is perceived as wrong and needs to be changed/improved to get it right.

Transformation is used to explain expansion and growth which is not seen a wrong or needing improvement only enhancing and building on something that is already great. 

Hence my belief in this being something we need to bring into our business environment.  Instead of the word improvement which makes people perceive that they have got it wrong, it is better to take a positive approach, using the word transformation points to something that is natural and expected, you have not failed or got anything wrong, you are only expanding your awareness from where you are now to becoming more than the experience you are at this current moment.  

Energetically transformation is empowering and positive, it instills positive energy into growth.  Improvement is fearful because the perception is that you are wrong and need to be improved it instills negative energy and causes people to operate from a place of fear which is contracted and competitive.

It is for this reason I believe it is important to change our business language from 'continuous improvement' to 'continuous transformation' because energetically they create different responses from people which are vital to our business development.  On the one hand the growth can come from expansive, empowered thinking which fosters a positive, proactive culture.  The other comes from fear based thinking which creates competition and contraction.  

The end result, both states create very different energy in business and can have a big impact to the overall performance of a business which is why debating on which language to use becomes an important issue.

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