The Art of Juggling

figure_juggling_balls_150_wht_4301Improvement Science is like three-ball juggling.

And there are different sets of three things that an Improvementologist needs to juggle:

the Quality-Flow-Cost set and
the Governance-Operations-Finance set and
the Customer-Staff-Organization set.

But the problem with juggling is that it looks very difficult to do – so almost impossible to learn – so we do not try.  We give up before we start. And if we are foolhardy enough to try (by teaching ourselves using the suck-it-and-see or trial-and-error method) then we drop all the balls very quickly. We succeed in reinforcing our impossible-for-me belief with evidence.  It is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Only the most tenacious, self-motivated and confident people succeed – which further reinforces the I-Can’t-Do belief of everyone else.

The problem here is that we are making an Error of Omission.

We are omitting to ask ourselves two basic questions “How does a juggler learn their art?” and “How long does it take?

The answer is surprising.

It is possible for just about anyone to learn to juggle in about 10 minutes. Yes – TEN MINUTES.

Skeptical?  Sure you are – if it was that easy we would all be jugglers.  That is the “I Can’t Do” belief talking. Let us silence that confidence-sapping voice once and for all.

Here is how …

You do need to have at least one working arm and one working eyeball and something connecting them … and it is a bit easier with two working arms and two working eyeballs and something connecting them.

And you need something to juggle – fruit is quite good – oranges and apples are about the right size, shape, weight and consistency (and you can eat the evidence later too).

And you need something else.

You need someone to teach you.

And that someone must be able to juggle and more importantly they must be able to teach someone else how to juggle which is a completely different skill.

juggling_at_Keele_June_2013Those are the necessary-and-sufficient requirements to learn to juggle in 10 minutes.

The recent picture shows an apprentice Improvement Scientist at the “two orange” stage – just about ready to move to the “three orange” stage.

Exactly the same is true of learning the Improvement Science juggling trick.

The ability to improve Quality, Flow and Cost at the same time.

The ability to align Governance, Operations and Finance into a win-win-win synergistic system.

The ability to delight customers, motivate staff and support leaders at the same time.

And the trick to learning to juggle is called step-by-step unlearning. It is counter-intuitive.

To learn to juggle you just “unlearn” what is stopping you from juggling. You unlearn the unconscious assumptions and habits that are getting in the way.

And that is why you need a teacher who knows what needs to be unlearned and how to help you do it.

And for an apprentice Improvement Scientist the first step on the Unlearning Journey is FISH.

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