Today of course, we can access an HGV licence through a fast track course so long as we can afford to pay for it. Today we secure loads with winch straps, we don't need to know how to tie a bosun or slip loop to winch against. This provides an easy way to see how technological advances impact on our over-arching approach to developing people, based on what they have to learn to achieve the same outcome.
This brief example also provides us a window through which to see the foundations of many coaching and management models, relative to team or individual maturity. Stage 1. Immature (on the willingness / ability scale) - management style = Directive. | Stage 2. Coaching, | Stage 3. Supportive. | Stage 4. Delegating ... as the team / individual matures on the willingness / ability scale.
So, let's consider the saying to come out of Lean history: "60% is good enough". You may think, coming from a company like Toyota who were already reporting 'Parts per Billion' as a quality standard in 1968, long before anyone even considered applying the term Parts per Million (before it was transformed into Defects per Million Operations within the Six Sigma toolbox), that they would only focus on 100% being good enough. But, they have the wisdom to recognise that's not how PEOPLE learn. We all learn more from our mistakes than from our successes, it's just a fact of life (and can be explained if you have time to consider neural tagging via emotionally triggered chemical release and neurogenesis). But to 'Keep it simple', it means, progress at an individual, team and organisational level can be facilitated by increasing our failure rate.
Yes, you heard me right. If we fail more regularly, by default, it means we're trying new things faster and the more we fail the more we learn, so the fewer mistakes we make and the better we get, faster - it's a snowball effect; but it starts, not with action, but with the intention and expectations behind actions and it ends with the neural processing of the experience. Doing is very important in all of this, but it's not the be-all and end-all ... how people are being before they act, when they act and after they act is also, if not much more, important.
So how does 60% is good enough work as far as the numbers are concerned.
Well let's start with a 100% of a problem and find a way to do it 60% better.
We're left with 40% of the original problem.
60% of 40 is 24, leaving 16% of the original problem.
60% of 16 is 9.6, leaving 6.4% of the original problem.
60% of 6.4 is 3.84, leaving 2.56% of the original problem.
60% of 2.56 is 1.536, leaving 1.024% of the original problem
60% of 1.024 is 0.6144, leaving 0.4 of the original problem.
Just like 5Y's and root cause analysis, asking someone to only ever get 60% better at each development step see's us develop and address 99.6% of the issue within 6 steps. Each step allows us to learn. Each experiential step allows new neurons and connections to be made in human brains (which gets loosely described as 'Tacit' or 'Intuitive' knowledge). Each step allows knowledge to be developed neurologically, IF the people involved are open to learning and have their expectations clearly set from the beginning, while receiving a consistent attitude (at a philosophical / cultural level) from their leaders.
This requires constancy of purpose and deep alignment from those at any and all layers of the organisation. That is 'Lean' leadership, because it gets the best from people faster and in ways which can be sustained. The standard approach to setting unrealistic targets with unrealistic expectations (largely through fear of failure / fear of rejection imprinting issues) and imposing them on others with no buy-in, engagement or ownership has the opposite effect - unsustained change which no-one learns from!
So you want to be a lean leader - encourage your teams to fail faster, or in other words, aim for only 60% improvement on an on-going basis - after all, it makes neurological sense!
All you have to do is overcome the western culture which frowns upon this approach, while promoting extensive planning sessions which cause extensive delays to action, ultimately achieving little more than a 60% success rate overall.
It's a funny old world, where people habituate and form comfort zones around so called 'Best-practice', which often doesn't work as well as a more educated alternative.