It’s January and people all across the country are off and running (no pun intended) on their New Years resolutions.  The most popular resolutions are to  lose weight or reduce body fat. Other resolutions might be related to bettering performance levels such as a heavier bench press or faster 5K time.  Some of them have joined health clubs, or started running, or purchased some in-home fitness equipment like the type endorsed by Chuck Norris on late night infomercials. Most are dieting or at least attempting to do so.  It’s a safe bet that for many it’s not the first time they’ve made such a resolution. Sadly for many, it won’t be their last as psychologists tells us that that to 78% of resolution makers fail.

January is the busiest time of the year for health clubs with up to a million people joining nation wide. But by the middle of April work pressures, family commitments, sprains, and strains will dramatically thin out the crowds in the health spas.  Dieting alone won’t result in enough weight loss to keep frustration from setting in, and by the end of May most will simply give up only to start all over again next January. Sound familiar?

On the bright side 20% or so of these people will  succeed in achieving their resolutions, and you can bet they share a number of secrets to success including an honest assessment of current state like weight, waist size, body mass index (BMI), or blood pressure. They know what their current performance levels are such as max weight pressed or best 5K time.   They don’t just want to lose weight or run faster. It’s likely that specific, measurable goals for their resolution were set based on comparing current states and performance levels to desired future states. They plan and get the right type, frequency, and intensity of physical activity tailored to their specific goal despite work pressures and family commitments. They don’t just diet. Eating habits are changed entirely including smaller portions, healthier choices,  and less junk. They try to get the right amount of sleep each night. They monitor progress toward their goal weekly or monthly with bathroom scale, tape measure, body calipers, or stopwatch. If progress falls behind plan or expectations they get to the root cause of why and take appropriate countermeasures to get back on track.  In the end, achieving the resolution results in permanent lifestyle changes.

If your organization has made a New Years resolution to become Lean in 2011 perhaps you should keep the above analogy in mind. Adopting a few of the secrets to success can greatly increase your organizations likelihood of success as well. Remember, your organizations improvement objective should be a little more specific than just being leaner.

At the very least an honest assessment of the current state and performance levels compared to desired or necessary future states will lead to enable your organization to develop specific, measurable, attainable improvement objectives. Remember, you don’t just want to be learner. You need to know what aspects of customer service or operating performance have to be improved, how much, and how fast. Then, and only then, you’ll be able to out how many improvement resources need to be brought to bear and where they need to be focused on value stream analysis, improvement events, and problem solving to achieve those goals. Monitor progress toward you goals at least monthly, and if actual progress lags behind expectations seek to get to the root cause of why then quickly develop and implement counter-measures to get back on track as soon as possible.

Collectively, these sensible steps will help increase the level of success experienced by your organization this year. More importantly, these steps  increase the likelihood of your organization continuing its Lean journey next year. After all, just as the successful resolution makers journey resulted in permanent lifestyle changes, your organizations Lean journey should ultimately lead to a culture based on Lean principles and relentlessly focused on the elimination of wast from all aspects of the business.

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