The human brain has evolved to engage with reality on the basis of simple rules-of-thumb (heuristics) that we can readily recall, share and apply at short notice. No heuristics are universal truths but some are useful under certain conditions.
Here are a few of my favourites on Change and Improvement. These are not listed in any particular order - it depends on the situation at hand and the needs of those involved:
- Focus on solutions (rather than problems)
- Find the vital element to be addressed in the situation and check: Whom does it serve? (The Fisher King)
- Minimise change and maximise improvement
- Make things easier easier first
- Make it easier for the next person
- Make small safe changes - ones that can be easily undone if they don't work
- Make continuous improvements, eg, Plan-Do-Study-Act but beware the dangers of tampering
- Identify and address the current constraint - this will give the best ROI
- Reduce costs (especially rework)
- Reduce variation
These and many similar heuristics could be distilled down into the following set of three (thanks to Insoo Kim Berg & Steve De Shazer):
In many ways heuristics are like keys - they are easy to carry and open the door to a richer set of possibilities.