Continually Improving

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Professional Development

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to develop the world’s best chocolate chip cookie or create the best training session; improvement often comes out of a number of small, incremental steps. This key thought is a central part of what continuous quality improvement is all about. Instead of seeking out that one change that will make everything perfect, continuous improvement is about working to constantly improve, so that over time, the product you are delivering becomes better.

As trainers, we should always have this desire to strive for improvement. Without it, we become stagnant and the quality of the training we are offering actually goes down. Not so much because we become careless in delivering it, but because our training doesn’t keep up with needs.

Industry and technology are constantly changing, requiring that we change as well. If we don’t, we end up being left behind, unable to meet our clients or our learner’s needs. Even so, hidden within that change is the opportunity for us to improve.

While continual quality improvement is an actual process, with specific concepts and steps, it’s more an attitude than anything else. You see, if you don’t have the desire to improve, then all you’ll do is go through the motions of improvement, without any of the results. On the other hand, if you have the desire to improve, then you’ll find ways of doing so, with or without the continual quality improvement process.

We talk about the process of continuous quality improvement in the design volume of our Learning Guide. In there, we go through all the necessary steps in this cycle. But, as I’ve already said, if you don’t have the right attitude, you’re not going to try, you’re just going to go through the motions.

I’ve said for years that “no matter how you’re doing things, there’s always a better way.” If you have the desire to improve, you’ll constantly be looking for that better way. You will constantly review what you have done, whether it is presenting some training, running a practical exercise for your learners, or doing an assessment, trying to find a way to improve it.

It is the summation of all these incremental changes and improvements that makes a difference, not a single change. Oh, one huge change can make a difference, but that usually happens only when the change is something totally new. When Apple introduced the iPad, that was a major improvement. People support that change because it makes a difference in their lives. That support (in the form of buying Apple’s products) encourages Apple to look for something that they can do better.

When we look at the training we offer, we need to do so with an attitude that it can always be better. That doesn’t mean that we’re putting down our own work, or that we feel that we’re not doing it right. No, we should feel good about the work that we’re doing. But at the same time, we should feel so good about it, that we want to make it better.

This literally needs to be a never-ending cycle. As we implement one set of changes, we prepare ourselves to seek out the next place to improve. In this way, we’re always improving, always offering better training.

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