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Values-based Continuous Improvement: Being Human, Being Vulnerable Revisited

In a moment of self-assessment, I put together a set of reminders for myself to stay true to my values in my continuous improvement journey.

Listen to my blog:

I guess I struck a chord with Continuous Improvement: Being Human, Being Vulnerable. Your responses made me stop and think about other values that I may have missed and how they would figure into my list of reminders.

“Creativity is an important part of continuous improvement. It must feel safe to try something new, to pitch an idea, to speak up. Psychological safety is a key success factor. If you don’t create this safe space, you will only get from people what they think you want to hear – and that’s the (invisible) talent waste that hurts organizations so much.” Julie Savage-Fournier, Julie Savage-Fournier services conseils.

One of the qualities for continuous improvement (i.e. seeking to do better in the future) is that a person or organization needs to be aware, reflective and present in the here and the now. Jon King, National Capital Commission.

We need to remember that everyone we work with is human…and wants to be treated kindly! Just like we want to be treated! Karyn Ross, Karyn Ross Consulting

My initial list of the values that guide my continuous improvement journey were kindness, empathy, sharing, patience, integrity and resilience. So, what would I add? Creativity, gratitude, simplicity and focus came up. Are these just other ways of describing my initial set of values or are they values that stand on their own?

This is my revised list and reminders to myself as I move forward to continuous improvement

Creativity: I need to be curious and give other people the time and space they need to explore and figure things out for themselves. Just because it isn’t my idea, it doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. I need to believe that people can be creative and encourage them to practice their creativity and build on their ideas.

Kindness: I need to remember that everyone is human and wants to be treated kindly. I need to be kind when I approach people about continuous improvement. There are ways of nudging people to be better without calling them out directly. I need to be grateful, better appreciate other people and what they bring to the table. I need to let them know that they are special and have done some really good things. I can also believe that people are kind and willing to help out. But, most of all I need to accept kindness and be kind to myself. I don’t have to be perfect all of the time. I can let go and let others help me out.

Empathy: I need to switch my focus and be mindful of others. I need to not only go see, but also listen. I need to be aware of what is happening around me without judgement. I should put myself in other people’s shoes. I need to think about what they may be thinking and feeling about what I am doing or asking them to do. Am I a complicator or a simplifier? Do people tune out or roll their eyes when I start to explain? Am I clear? Am I getting more questions than nods? Can I sense frustration or is it excitement? I need to see change as they do and recognize how the process may be affecting them. Do people feel comfortable approaching me? I need to think about how I can identify the causes of their fears and work to address them. I also need to be aware of pockets of hope and help others to see possibilities. At the end of the day, I need to truly understand that it isn’t always about me.

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Sharing: I can share my thoughts, my knowledge and expertise without reservation.  I can also bring people together and encourage them to share.   I need to remember that the sum of the individual parts is greater than the whole.  We are stronger together must be my mantra. I don’t have to go it alone.

Patience: I need to recognize and accept that not everyone is at the same level or can make the same progress. I need to give then the space they need to go at their own pace and to make their own discoveries. I can be patient with myself and encourage others to be patient with themselves and each other as we move forward on our improvement journey.

Integrity: I must try to match my words and actions. People are quick to spot a phoney.  There is nothing worse than Do What I Say, Not What I Do. I should walk the walk and talk the talk; serve as a model for others as often as I can and inspire them. At the same time, I need to be proud of who I am and where I came from, be my authentic self.

Resilience: I need to remind myself to just do it, try it and keep going in my efforts to improve. Who knows, I might just get there and bring other people with me.

So now that I have had a chance to think about and incorporate your feedback, did I get it right? Is my list of reminders going to help me achieve continuous improvement not only for myself, but also for others?

Photos by Virginia Stanley, Canterbury Arts Program, Canterbury High School, Ottawa.
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