Habit Changes for a Daily Management System

When you embark on the implementation of a daily management system, how you behave and how you approach your daily routines may need to change. As can be seen by anyone attempting a new routine or trying to change a habit, this is hard work and requires focus and discipline.  James Clear’s best-selling book Atomic Habits (Clear, J. 2018) delves into this topic.  Clear provides useful advice regarding how to change and/or create new habits.  Let’s see how his guidelines can help a leader as they begin to act differently as part of implementing the daily management system.

Clear provided four steps to creating a better habit.  They are:

  • Make it obvious
  • Make it attractive
  • Make it easy
  • Make it satisfying

When implementing a management system, one important behavior and habit change for senior leaders is to go to "gemba" (where the value is created) to support a daily improvement huddle.  Below we use Clear’s four steps to help make this new behavior a habit.

Make it obvious

The first step is to make it obvious. As many leaders know, we can become a slave to our calendar and have a hard time fitting anything different into our schedule.  Attending a huddle may not have made it to your calendar.  As you begin this journey, make it obvious that you will attend a huddle by reviewing your calendar and adjusting it to incorporate the huddle time.  This will make it obvious that you should be present in the gemba for huddle.

Make it attractive

When going to the huddle, it’s important for you to understand your role and be transparent with the team regarding why you are there.  Your role when going to a huddle is not to solve problems or get extra work to take back and work on.  Your role is to support the team, break down barriers, and celebrate their good work.  It’s fun to go see the work of the team and give them positive feedback about the work they are doing. This makes the new habit attractive. It’s also helpful to have firsthand knowledge of the work of the team when sharing with other leaders in the organization. Being able to celebrate the good work going on in the organization makes going to gemba attractive to engaged leaders.

Make it easy

Using your calendar and having some standard work for what to do when at the huddle makes it easy when working on this new habit. Standard work is simple and should explain when to go, why it’s important, and what you should do when spending time with the team. When the team is expecting you, it makes it easy to show up and engage with the team. It keeps it simple and straightforward.

Make it satisfying

Finally, making it satisfying is pretty easy.  When you get to go see the good work of the team, help them break down barriers so they can move to a better process, and celebrate what the team has accomplished, I have found it to be very satisfying.  You get away from firefighting and begin to see the critical thinking of the team develop so they can solve the problems they face every day with solutions that make sense to them.  In the end, they are more satisfied and engaged which is very satisfying to any leader that wants to see their teams excel in providing value to the customers.

Using James Clear’s four steps as a road map, helps show how you can begin to develop new habits when implementing a daily management system.  The work will be different, but ensuring you have a process to develop new habits for your daily work will support your implementation and help you sustain the gains from this new way to do work. What has helped you to change your habits and behaviors as part of the culture shift to that of continuous improvement?

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