I recently started reading SCRUM by Jeff Sutherland. For someone who is a process and business geek (like me), it has been a treasure trove of knowledge. Even in just the first few chapters I have come across two concepts that I would like to share with you that, through your own creative interpretation, may provide some boon to you. The first is ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ (PDCA) and the other is ‘Shu Ha Ri.’
In my opinion PDCA is a pivotal concept regardless of whether you are building a new retaining wall in your yard or trying to get the best results out of your team at work.
Plan - Figure out what it is you are going to do and how.
Do - This one is easy. Go do what you just planned!
Check - Check your work. Did the results shock you? In a good way?
Act - Good results? Make it part of how things are done from now on. Bad results? Figure out why, then start back at ‘Plan’ and try to make it better.
The most important piece to me is ‘Act’ simply because of how much time I see wasted by others repeating mistakes or bad protocol. If we fail to adapt and evolve as humans, or business professionals for that matter, then we will quickly find ourselves frustrated. Stuck in the same bad spot we were just in a moment ago. Quick example - I used to be terrible at invoicing my clients. This made life difficult because, obviously, we all need money to live! When I finally took the time to plan out the beginning and end of a client transaction it ran so smoothly. Life was great in that moment! It wasn’t until I left that new idea and framework by the wayside later that month in another transaction that I realized that it truly is important to take the time before and after to make something sustainable. Then came the tricky part: Shu Ha Ri - a Japanese martial arts concept.
Shu Ha Ri embodies the level of mastery or a given flow. When one is in Shu, they know the rules and forms - there is no deviation from them in this stage. One repeats them verbatim so the body and mind absorb them. Ha is the second level of mastery. Here is where innovation starts. One understands the rules and forms well enough to be able to put in that extra ‘flourish.’ Finally, in Ri one has completely mastered the practice and can be freely creative because the knowledge is so deeply embedded that it has become a part of them.
Let’s go back to my invoicing problems. The second time I had to go through PDCA for my invoicing process and had admirable results, I took the time to reflect on how the whole transaction went and how I could modify my operations so that every transaction was that easy and fulfilling. Not just for myself, but for my clients too. Once I figured that out, in the long term I realized that I saved my business large amounts of time and stress. I wasn’t redoing nearly as many invoices and the process happened in such a way that people enjoyed (yes, enjoyed) paying me in full and on time. Over time the process became natural (Ha) and now I am able to improve it on the fly and adapt it in ways I would never have thought of (Ri).
How can your life benefit from PDCA and Shu Ha Ri? Ever feel like you’re constantly reinventing the wheel? Try starting there. You feel that way for a reason. Deal with that reason and its cause and you may find yourself with more time, less stress, and better circumstances.
Need help identifying how to improve your life or business? Give the Protagonist team a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org any time! We are here to help you be the hero your life (or business) deserves.