Taking the Plunge

I phoned into Karl Wadensten’s Lean Nation Radio show yesterday to help kick off his second year on the air.  His indefatigable enthusiasm for improvement is inspiring. There are too few Karl’s; too many persons waiting on the sidelines these days, afraid to take a risk.   Not Captain Karl; he dives right in, undaunted by the possibility that he might make a mistake; for Karl, another learning opportunity.   I told him a while back that I think he works too hard and takes on too many causes, but honestly I’m just jealous that I don’t have that energy.  Go Karl! 

Referring to 5S (workplace organization), Karl likes to say, “The sixth ‘S’ is for Start!”  The message needs heeding.   Sadly, the main reason that I see today for failed lean implementations is hesitancy to take the next step.  That may be the first step or it may be a step well down the road.  Organizations large and small, public and private find too many reasons not to proceed.   From some I hear “We’re too busy right now,” while others say they are so stressed by business slowdown that every resource is needed to respond to the customers they still have.   When I hear from a company president, “We’re not ready yet for continuous improvement,” I have to ask what are the prerequisites?   

I understand that political and organizational inertia can be daunting adversaries, particularly in larger companies.  But stakes are getting higher every year.   The decisions that American business and government make today will impact our children and their children.   Just as we from the 20th century are caretakers for the environment, we are also caretakers of future economic opportunity.  This is the theme of 2011 Northeast Shingo Conference – Made Lean in America. 

We have just entered the second decade of the 21st century.  Time flies.  Why not make 2011 the year that you take the plunge’  (lol) with a commitment to regaining America’s competitive vitality?   As Karl W. says, “The sixth S is for Start.”  Let me know your feelings?  What’s holding you back?  What’s moving you forward? 

Blogging on in 2011 —  Bruce

5 thoughts on “Taking the Plunge

  1. Chris Martin

    New tradition. Next year we should get all those who take the plunge in 2011 to follow Bruce into that frigid water. I’m sure that Captain Karl will join us!

  2. Linda K.

    You are my hero, Bruce Hamilton! I think that we should all “take the plunge” together on Jan 1, 2012…

    I’ll share a story with you and your readers… prior to joining the VIBCO team, I frequently used my analytical mind to find reasons why things couldn’t be done or what obstacles would need to be overcome along the way. I thought that was what good employees did! I had no idea how limiting that kind of thinking was. It was the cultural norm at my previous employer. “Death by committee” was commonplace.

    But everything changed when I came to VIBCO. Karl relentlessly challenged me to “figure it out” and “get ‘er done”… and he didn’t take no for an answer. As a result, my whole thought process and mind-set changed from “here’s why we can’t” to “here’s how we can”. What a powerful, powerful change for my career, our business, and my personal life!

    Thank you for all that you’ve done to support our journey and for being a passionate and relentless force for positive change. Cheers, brother.

  3. Lesa Nichols

    What is moving me forward is the inspirational energy of my elders:)! I am fortunate to work with both you and Karl-truly motivational to see the “can do” /”just try something” spirit that is there every single day. Whatever drives you guys is truly contagious-maybe it is something in the water:).

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