How To Continuously Improve (Part 8)
Having defined the future vision, we need to discover and deeply learn the current condition we find our organization in. Then, we need to set a reasonable target condition, in other words, the next step to get closer to the vision. Next, we will face obstacles and problems in between our current state and the target condition. Ultimately, the real improvement happens on our way to solve those problems:
Now, let’s take a detailed view and dive deeper into the Target Condition first.
Target Condition = a desired future state.
In other words, it can be established by answering questions such as:
- What’s next?
- How do we want the conditions to be?
- How should the process operate, and what is its typical pattern?
Target vs. Target Condition
In most organizations, it is widely accepted to put forward some targets for the future, and they are in the forms of KPIs, cost-cutting, lead time, revenue, and so on. In practice, we can see targets like “increase revenue by 10%” or “decrease lead time by 5 days.” It is called focusing on the outcomes of the process rather than the process itself.
Having numerical outcome targets is important, but even more important are the means by which we achieve those targets.
H. Thomas Johnson
For example, as Mark Rother states, “a quantitative cost reduction target by itself is not descriptive enough to be actionable by people in the organization. The overall goal may be to improve cost competitiveness, but having that alone will tend to make people simply cut inventory and people… What I did was point out that the process, not the inventory, should be the focus of our attention.”
Simply put, when you are unsatisfied with your bedtime and wake-up hours, you may set a target, which is “wake up at 8 AM straight!” or “I want to lead a perfect lifestyle!” and continue living just the same; but does it really help?! It helps, but temporarily. Like for 2–3 days, you can try to push yourself. How about then? Then, things “recover,” and you will again start being unsatisfied with your condition.
Target is about the symptom and outcome. Target Condition is about the cause and the process.
Instead, it would be helpful to understand a situation first and learn the factors that make your sleeping habits deteriorate. Then, set not the target but the vision first and answer the question, “why do you want to stay up early or on time?” Probably, to lead a healthy life. So, let’s say, “Leading a healthy life” is your vision, and so as to move closer to it, you should have daily or weekly target conditions.
Hence, to move closer to the vision, you should fix your sleeping habits, and your target condition concerning sleep would look like this:
At the onset, if your waking hours were in fluctuation, you should not try to fully fix it right away, but you should continuously strive for improvement.
The very purpose of Target Condition is to help identify obstacles and the root causes of the problem.
- First, do not forget that in order to wake up early, you should go to sleep early, taking into consideration that the normal sleeping hours are in the range of 7–9. So, learn your habits and current condition, and answer the question: “When you normally go to sleep?” If the hours range from 11 PM — 2 AM, then set a target condition to reduce the range to 11 PM — 1 AM.
- Secondly, learn the current condition about nutrition as it also one of the factors that affect sleep habits. For example, if you eat things and drink things much at night in the present condition, that may really be a sign that makes you unstable in your sleep. So, reduce the food and beverage intakes from 100% to 70%. But… you love chocolates and the stuff… however, as long as they are conflict with your vision, you should act accordingly and decide!
- going to bed between 11 PM — 2 AM;
- food intake after 9 PM: 100%;
- looking at the (laptop, smartphone) screen after 10 PM: 50 mins;
- going to bed between 11 PM — 1 AM;
- food intake after 9 PM: 70%;
- looking at the (laptop, smartphone) screen after 10 PM: 25 mins.
This way, you can really go into the process of improving your sleeping habits than just blindly pursuing the 8 AM target. Interestingly, the result (8 AM) will take care of itself when you seek the target condition.
Target Condition = Target Process
What can the Target Condition give us?
It enables us to find out and work on the real problems and hindrances between the Current and Target Conditions. In turn, we can either give up and avoid the obstacles to change the direction or puzzle them out to continue moving towards the vision. Which way is better!? You decide!
In other words, as you have defined the current state and the target state, now you can focus on the obstacles between them by asking questions: What is hindering me from sleeping early and waking up on time? How can I sleep earlier? How can I reduce the food intake?
Each time you find an answer and work on the hindrances between Current and Target Conditions, you improve. Whenever you reach the Target Condition, the achieved Target Condition becomes the Current Condition, and you should set the next Target Condition to get even closer to the vision. That’s called Continuous Improvement!
Now, think about the simple example we mentioned and ponder about the ways to implement it in your endeavors. To be continued…