Some of my team and I were at an international training conference in Phoenix last week. Being a regular to these, I knew what to expect and knew to expect the unexpected. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The format was a half day followed by a full day, then another half. The quality of the speakers and trainers was excellent and the reinforcement of proven concepts was what we needed: great and expected. The mind-set piece, was unexpected – just as I expected it would be.
What struck me was when co-founder and CEO, Greg Provenzano, spoke about a key concept that had driven the growth of his firm’s business over the last two decades. He said “We have a motto … finished never is. We are always trying to figure out ways to further enhance what we are doing.”
“Finished Never Is”. Being the “Doubting Thomas” I too often can be, I thought he said it wrong. But to prove me wrong, he stated it again, slower while enunciating it clearer so that it could sink in: “Finished Never Is”. And it sunk in!
That phrase, with those three words in that unusual order, had a Yoda-esque sound to it. In the 1980 movie, “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”, Yoda says to Luke, “Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
Mr. Provenzano brought back to me concepts that have been woven throughout my career. Concepts I’ve tried to put into place as appropriate depending upon my role. My introduction to them was in the early ‘90’s, when I was involved in the software QA tool development field. A word that was used back then was ‘kaizen’, a Japanese word which, in English, is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement. Finished never is.
The individual that was inspirational and seminal behind the idea of continuous improvement, was Dr. W. Edwards Deming. He taught quality assurance (QA)and proved the process’ superiority in effectiveness as opposed to the more traditional quality control (QC). Deming is best known for his work in Japan after WWII, particularly his work with the leaders of Japanese industry, which many in Japan credit with being the inspiration for what has become known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle of 1950 to 1960
According to Sky Mark Corporation, Dr. Deming’s famous 14 Points, originally presented in Out of the Crisis, cultivate a fertile soil in which a more efficient workplace, higher profits, and increased productivity may grow. You can read them all here, but a few that stood out for me are:
Having these principles, or tenets, driving the growth of a company can have a staggering affect on that company’s trajectory. As if to prove it Mr. Provenzano’s company is one of those “following the hockey stick”. I strive to hear him speak on a quarterly basis and have had the pleasure of meeting him by invitation earlier this year. He is the executive I admire most, regardless of industry and will always remember the meeting fondly.
Applying continuous improvement concepts, and reaffirming them on a regular basis, has made extraordinary strides in our firm. Specifically:
I will continue to improve my thought process and my motivation as we move our business forward. Finished Never Is — three words that speak volumes!
Tom Mumford is Co-founder, CEO & CTO for TriAxis, Inc.
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