Inside Out or Outside In?

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How do you get better at what you do? To get to Carnegie Hall, you practice, but if you develop great products, what do you do? There are a lot of people, most of them (us) with something to sell who are quick to give advice, but which way do you go. You can work in from the edges or you can work out from the middle.

At the edges, localized improvements can be made. A new computer, a training class, a new machine tool. You always need to be on the look out for opportunities to make spot changes. They are easy to implement and usually can be made without turning your process upside down. These types of improvements are relatively low risk, after all if it doesn’t work out, you can go back to the old way. The problem is it is hard to gain advantage over your competitors by improving at the edges.

Working out from the center. That is how you make your process different. By looking at the whole process you can optimize your work flow and make a real difference. Implement ERP, Lean, redesign your manufacturing process, these kinds of changes can catapult you to lead your industry, … or, if poorly executed, can put you out of business. Center out change has great potential, and also caries risk.

If you keep both perspectives in mind, you can have the best of both worlds. Change is hard, but when you make a local change, a change on the edge, consider how you can leverage your investment to improve your process for the better. Getting good at change is a lot like going to Carnegie Hall, the way you get good at change is to practice.

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