Yesterday I read that only 5% of the changes we make at work are changes for the better. Only 1 in 20 improvements actually improve things.
Allegedly everything else we do is ineffective or, worse still, counter-productive.
I thought that sounded horribly harsh. Only 1 in 20 improvements are really improvements? It sounded more like a management consultant trying to make a point and drum up some business than a grounded statistic.
So I wrote a list of knock out questions to check the statistic. A way of separating the real improvements from the false ones, then tested a list of improvements against it.
Was my improvement really an improvement?
Did my actions make the world a better place?
- Was I really clear what the problem was before I started fixing things?
- Was I sure who it was a problem for and did they agree it needed fixing?
- Did I get at the root cause of the problem and tackle the real issue?
- Were there any side effects that muddied the waters?
- Was I really better off after the change? Could I measure a difference?
- Was I positive that the problem didn’t just go away by itself?
- Was the person with the problem happy with the fix, or were they being polite so I would go away?
That knocked out a false improvement or two
Of the twenty improvements I started with more than a handful hit the dust. But I still had a few dubious improvements left. So I asked myself a final question…
Is the statistic still ungrounded?
Perhaps 1 in 20 isn’t such an unfounded allegation after all. Not all changes are improvements.
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