A revolution in the quality of manufactured goods happened in the 1980s with the advent of Total Quality Management (TQM). The idea was simple. Companies could continuously improve the quality of the products they produced by observing their process and the products being produced, finding mistakes and imperfections, and then altering the process to address the mistake and remove the imperfection in the product moving forward.
This dedication to continuous improvement and focus on quality as the desired and achievable outcome at every level of an organization from senior leadership down to folks working on the line gave companies a striking competitive advantage over those who had a more lackadaisical approach to delivering high quality products and services for their customers.
The fact is, in the modern business environment, there is an expectation on the part of customers that companies will continue to improve their delivery of goods and services with each iteration, version, and generation of an offering. So, for instance, it is common for people to wait for the next version of their favorite smart phone to be released before purchasing it because the assumption is that it will be better than the current generation available in the market.
So, if practices like Total Quality Management, Lean Manufacturing, and Six Sigma are so successful in business, is there something to be learned and applied in your every day personal life?
If you look at how the human brain works, it’s very similar to a manufacturing plant in several key respects. Although, of course, instead of manufacturing widgets, your brain manufactures decisions, insights, actions, and understandings.
Similar to a plant assembling automobiles or any other complex product, your brain works by starting with simple components and then compiles them into sub-assemblies, and then combines those into assemblies, and then finally collects those into a final assembly as a finished good. Each combination of parts is treated as a component part for a later step in the process, and any flaw introduced earlier in the process will be embedded in the final result.
The human brain stores information and decisions like assemblies for later use. If you watch a toddler learning to climb stairs, drink from a glass, or use silverware for the first time it is very apparent that the common assemblies adults have readily available to hand are not yet in their inventory. And so, as they work to train their systems to operate in a specific way to achieve a specific result it takes a great deal of concentration, focus, and attention to assimilate all of the new information and experiences that will allow them to create the basic assemblies of “lift glass to mouth and pour” or “balance and step” or “lift and balance and rotate and align and place spoon with food intact in mouth”.
It is the same with the learning process around any decision — the brain uses pre-built assemblies of knowledge and experience to simplify information processing and achieve more complex decisions in a more robust and simple fashion. Every time you make a decision you are storing information that your brain will use in making future decisions along with metadata about the success or failure you experience as a result of that decision.
So, if you were to apply Total Quality Management principles to your personal decision making you would have to adopt a similar approach to what companies use in pursuit of continuous improvement of the results they achieve in producing the products you use every day:
- Quality is defined by customer experience.
- Everyone in the organization has responsibility for quality improvement.
- Increasing quality is the direct result of systematic analysis and improvement of processes.
- Quality improvement is a continuous iteration of improving the process of work completed.
You might restate these principles in the context of your own decision making as:
- Quality is defined by the results you achieve as experienced by yourself and others.
- You have to own your decisions and take responsibility for their results in order to improve them.
- You have to be open, accurate, authentic, objective, and honest with yourself in evaluating your decision making processes and address the root cause and patterns of choices you make, not just single decisions.
- Quality decision making is a continuous pursuit, a lifestyle, and a walk of faith — not a one time event.
Successful people pursue and rely upon a lifestyle of evolutionary change.
Choosing a basic core of integrity, faith, education, and confidence as a foundation and then continuing to improve decisions based upon insights gained from the systematic evaluation of your practice of your core values opens a path to higher quality decisions and higher quality results. Every decision is the opportunity to improve upon the one that came before it. Using high quality pre-built assemblies in combination with innovative, creative, thoughtful, and revolutionary new additions that can be adopted by following in the footsteps of others you respect and connecting more concretely with God opens you to experience higher awareness, higher recognition, higher assimilation, higher observation, higher resilience, higher insight, and higher quality at every level in your life.
By applying the basic best practices explained in the Bible and then evaluating your success in applying them with clarity and truthfulness — listening to those around you to further develop your understanding of the experience you are creating both for yourself and others — and then systematically adopting the improvements you discover, you can create a lifestyle of receiving God’s goodness in greater and greater measure — increasing success, blessing, abundance, peace, fulfillment, prosperity, accomplishment, health, and joy.
The process is simple. Choose. Experience. Reflect. Consider. Improve. Choose Again.
Hold yourself accountable. Make yourself responsible. Choose to own your decisions and so change them.
And most of all, don’t be afraid of objectively observing the results you achieve for yourself and others and reflecting on them, because every flaw is an opportunity to increase the quality of what you produce, every mistake is a discovery of how better to receive life, every sin is an experience that will cause you to remember something to avoid in the future, every error is perfection awaiting your next choice.
By choosing to adopt continual improvement as your lifestyle and placing your confidence in God’s desire to build you up, strengthen you, heal you, and restore you — you are stepping away from the condemnation, the guilt, the shame, and the fear that the enemy wants to impose on you because every challenge, every obstacle, every conflict, every failure, every imperfection, every defeat becomes the catalyst, the platform, the means, and the ability to create higher quality decisions and higher quality results moving forward.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” – John 1