"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get
run over if you just sit there." (Will Rogers)
Continuous improvement is what karma teaches and
demands from us. Each life in our cycle of reincarnation will be more
difficult than the ones before it.
One of the fastest ways to improve is
to discover the best way to learn from/respond to mistakes.
Personal improvement involves the search for
Personal improvement requires keen discerment
Being our best is the goal-outcome of continuous
"Fixing the blame for a problem is like going in after
the war is lost and bayoneting the wounded." (Anon)
What matters the most is not that you make a mistake,
but how you respond in correcting it.
Inevitable & Unavoidable:
We are human and so we are born to make mistakes.
In my former career of software engineering, no matter how careful you
were, no matter how hard you tried to think through every possible
contingency, no matter what precautions you took, mistakes were bound to
happen. So given that...
Once a mistake has been uncovered, the best
thing you can do is to face up to it (the best way is to
perform fault analysis).
Trying to diffuse, delay, deflect, dissociate, or deny the mistake only
wastes time, energy, and money while creating bad karma. It is best to
admit the mistake and start on correcting it immediately. Believe it
or not, people will end up respecting your honesty. This will serve to
strengthen your credibility with them… rather than weakening it.
Once you have admitted it, you should do your
best to fix it. Take some time to figure out how that can be done,
create a plan with tasks with time tables, and then communicate it to
those effected. Keep them informed of your progress. Gain their
cooperation in rectifying it if necessary. Make sure that everyone
agrees, when the mistake has been corrected, that it has been done
Mistakes usually happen for a reason. Part of
correcting the mistake is
finding out why it happened
to make sure that steps are taken to prevent it
from happening again. Much energy is often wasted on assigning the
blame to a person. Most often people make mistakes because policies and
procedures are unclear or confusing. Improving such guidelines will
help people to do a better job next time.
Once mistakes are corrected and policies/procedures
are improved to prevent further errors, the mistake should be forgiven.
All too often people dwell on past mistakes ensuring that they will
reincarnate again in the future. If
"the beatings will continue until morale improves",
past mistakes will live on forever. It is far
better karmically to learn from past mistakes and to move on from
"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea,
especially when you only have one idea." (Alain)
Are you desperately seeking new ideas? If so,
here are some places to find them…
Imagination happens when you get new ideas
coming from research, brainstorming, creative insights, and other means
One way to spark
your imagination is to visualize what your ideal situation would be.
If you had unlimited time, money, personnel, and other resources to
create your ideal, what would that be? Although we all live in the
"real world" where resources are limited, the best things come from
"thinking outside of the box" in an unlimited way.
The cell phone was invented by people who were
inspired by the hand-held communicators from the original "Star Trek"
TV show (thought to be almost impossible to do back then).
Improvements happens when you want to enhance
or optimize existing ideas. What you do not have now is a future idea
waiting to be born.
If you are in business,
the best source of improvement ideas comes from your customers, your
employees, your vendors, and anyone else you regularly deal with.
They will tell you how you can improve your product or service so
that you can better meet their needs. Listen closely because unless
you improve, your business will fail.
"Post-It-Notes" came from an attempt to improve
light adhesives. As it happened the adhesive was too weak to work as
intended. Yet, it did work to hold up most papers and so it became a
major improvement in "offline" office technology.
Imitation happens when you adopt, borrow,
recycle, or reuse external ideas from others. The quickest and
easiest way to get it is to consult known experts on the subject
(better known as adopting "Best Practices").
If you are in business
, you need to look at several sources of
imitation. First, keep tabs on what your competitors are now doing.
Next, pay attention to "industry information" from trade associations,
conferences, classes, and online knowledge bases. Finally, if there are
abundant resources to pay for leading edge intelligence, then investing
in information from "Think Tanks" is definitely for you.
MicroSoft Word was the ultimate in imitation:
taking the best features from WordPerfect as wells as many other leading
word processors to imitate a software that was "better" than all of them.
"What stands before him may spy; But optics sharp
it needs & keen; To see what is not to be seen." (Sleuth)
Some of the greatest ideas lie buried inside
endless amounts of seemingly unrelated data.
Known as "Knowledge Discovery" or "Pattern
Recognition", Data Mining is the process of analyzing links, trends,
or relationships among data and summarizing this analysis into
actionable information and knowledge. The purpose is to reveal causes
of historical patterns and/or predict future trends.
In "Data Mining", data can be sorted into
"classes" (like success or failure), "clusters" (like logical
relationships between classes), "associations" (like cause-and-effect
links between classes and clusters), and "sequential patterns" (like
future trends based on past associations) to gain information and
The end result of "Data Mining" is often a very important
finding that is not apparent at first… but almost always one that can
and should drive decision making to create a better result.
Data Mining is much like the solution to the
riddle in the quote above. When you put a clear quartz stone into a
glass of water, it seems to disappear because both objects are
transparent. Yet if you look at the glass very carefully, you will
see the quartz stone… that is if you know where to look for it.
Discerning the patterns in data by Data Mining is just like that… looking
closely to see what is in the data that is not readily obvious.
Data Mining helps us to answer these questions:
When things go right, what can be done to make
them go even better? When things go wrong, what really went wrong and
what must be changed?
A husband notices an uneven response from his
wife during their communications. So, he makes a log of what happened
when he did/did not get the response he wanted from her. Soon a
distinct pattern in the data about communication emerged which surprised
him. When he looked his wife in the eye and spoke in a soft voice, this
husband got a better response from her, regardless of the content of
what he was saying! This knowledge saved their marriage.
Is there something you would like to improve?
Data Mining is the place to start on the quest for continuous
If you have a temper, start a log about what you
were thinking, feeling, and noticing when you became angry. When you
discern the pattern of what angers you (through Data Mining), you can
act to diffuse that trigger and keep your cool.