One of the most frustrating things that I experience in my process improvement work is when team progress stalls. There may be a lot of activity, but no real results. This can happen in many different ways.
Team members waste all their time arguing about what to do first. We have endless discussions about improvement ideas that never turn into action. Often, these discussions devolve into general gripe sessions with no real purpose.
On the other end of the spectrum, teams can find themselves with no clear ideas for improvement. We don’t make any progress because we don’t know what to work on.
There is one question that I have found to be extremely helpful in all of these situations.
I love watching kids interact with the world. They have a wonderful ability to treat even the most mundane things as fantastic discoveries. My youngest daughter can always get me to smile with the way she lights up when she learns something new. Her excitement is infectious as she announces to the room in a very loud voice what she has observed.
It doesn’t matter if it is playing with sticks in the mud, having a pretend picnic, or challenging themselves on the playground, kids are constantly interacting with their environment in novel ways. They test ideas and ask questions about the world and how it works. Driven by their curiosity, this is how they grow and learn.
“Children astound me with their inquisitive minds. The world is wide and mysterious to them, and as they piece together the puzzle of life, they ask ‘Why?’ ceaselessly.” – John C. Maxwell
Adults and organizations are no different.