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The 10-Year Old Mindset

Continuous improvement often requires us to step outside what we believe to be true and look at the world in a new, different way.

Children do this on a regular basis. Why is the sky blue? How do birds fly? What would happen if you were driving at the speed of light and you turned on your headlights? This type of curiosity without fear is the hallmark of the 10 year-old mindset.

Children thirst for knowledge around them in a way that most adults don’t. Kids question the reasons for things. As children, though, we lacked the knowledge and experience to do much with our curiosity. It was purely a learning mechanism for putting the world around us in order.

As adults, we start to believe that we know things and we stop asking questions. This certainly makes life easier—we don’t have to think as much.

And face it—there is far less conflict with our coworkers if we aren’t constantly questioning processes…and each other.

Unfortunately, the key to making a process better sometimes comes from asking the right question. If we stop asking questions, some problems never get fixed. Re-kindling the sort of natural curiosity that a ten year-old possesses can launch great ideas.

Continuous improvement success comes from first admitting that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do. Only then will we start asking questions about everything.

It is not only a matter of using problem solving toolsto get to the bottom of things. It also means that we have to question the very nature of the way we do business. Why do we need to have that form in triplicate? Why does a manager need to approve this form? Why does the product need to have this feature? And the most important question of all: What if…..?

Click on the link to see a short, animated video on how to use an easy-to-implement problem solving tool like the 5 Whys that will help practice putting yourself into the 10 year-old mindset. Then try approaching the next big problem you face as if you know nothing about it.

Your goal should be to strip away the complexity that we often layer on processes and make things simple.


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