I don’t like much TV programming, but I do like Forged in Fire. On the show, contestants have to forge ancient weapons like swords and axes. The job of one of the judges is to see how well the weapons work against a dummy. The judge, Doug Marcaida, has developed a catch phrase for those that work well: “This will kill.” In terms of activities to raise the bar in organizations, there are a few things that can “kill”, and not in a good meaning.

  • Being too busy. Any fool can be busy.
  • Unnecessary layers of management can delay initiation and completion while watering down the impact.
  • Fragile egos and turf protection. There are those who may feel threatened by the change. Their impact needs to be mitigated.
  • It takes focus and dedication over time to see results.
  • Complicated theoretical processes. I once heard a consultant opine that it takes years to develop the culture required to see process improvements with his methodology. I bet he bills by the hour.
  • Self-amputation of creativity. People cannot be allowed to think they do not have ideas or that it is not their place to have ideas.
  • Innovation is a switchback not a straight line. Many times the objective will be out of sight while the heavy work is all that can be seen.

The degree to which these “killers” occur and are tolerated will have a direct impact on whether an organization can actually raise the bar on performance and enjoy the benefits.