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The Queen of Soul and Continuous Improvement

This may be my favorite song of all times, Aretha Franklin singing "Respect".

Find out what it means to me
Take care ... TCB (taking care of business).

This is the time of year when we make our resolutions.  We make our bold proclamations to friends and family.  We set goals for ourselves and make vision boards.  And often we set ourselves up for failure because we shoot for impressive and noticeable transformation without creating a clear plan for getting there.

As I write this, I'm not thinking about "failing to plan is planning to fail".  Rather, I'm thinking that most progress is made in inches, not miles.  Especially in the workplace, and especially if you've worked in the same environment for a while, there will be few truly breathtaking innovations that you can pull off.  It becomes easy to slip into complacency and blame the external lack of opportunities for your malaise.

So what is the antidote to feeling sorry for yourself because your efforts aren't going to get you into the pages of business porn pubs like Fast Company where everybody's job is an exciting award winning interlude between their triathalons?  Continuous improvement.  That's right.   Every product and service is the sum of many moving parts of people, process, materials and systems that (best case scenario) deliver what the customer needs.  Since the world around us and our customers is constantly changing, those needs are changing as well.

Change is hard, especially when the current way of doing things isn't broken.  But "not broken" is a far cry from "sock it to me" results.  (If you were born after 1960, ask your parents).  Talk to your customers and employees and find out how well that product or process is really working for them.  Be willing to make changes that make their lives easier and good things happen.  Accept that the accumulation of small changes can still have a big impact.

Like Aretha says in the song, "Now, I get tired, but I keep on tryin'".  Go on now, TCB.

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