By Mark Rounds, VP of Corporate Development

We’ve all seen or heard Einstein’s quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” For most people, this is unfavorable. So, we try to change our behavior to change the outcome; hoping next time the results will be different. Frequently, we even try to change the behaviors of others; but usually to no avail. This process almost always ends in frustration for everyone involved. So how do we change results?

We know that our behavior creates our results. The habits that we have honed over the years will produce the same results. When we want to change a result, we try to change our behavior. For example, diet programs convince us that if we consume their products (the behavior) we will lose weight (the result). (Usually the only thing that gets lighter is our wallet.) Rarely is this sustainable because we don’t have enough “will power” to break the old habits.

It takes an average of 66 days to learn a new habit. That’s two months of hard work. If we rely on behavior to change results, we will inevitably run out of energy. There needs to be a self-motivating factor. To change results we need to dive deeper: what triggers behaviors? How we behave is directly related to how we think. What we are thinking at the moment of action will dictate how we behave which will cause a result. (Now, whether the result is favorable or not is a whole different discussion; but the process is always the same.)

It doesn’t stop there. Simply thinking of a result doesn’t make it so. We need to believe it. Our current thinking is directed by several factors: perceived facts, theories, past experiences, education, etc. We can sum all these up in two key words: beliefs and assumptions. We choose what we believe and we make assumptions to fill in the missing facts. Then, based on these beliefs and assumptions we analyze (this is the thinking part) our environment. So, in order to make a sustainable change and create new results, we need to change our beliefs and assumptions, which will direct our thinking, which will control our behavior that in turn produces the result.

In the world of Lean Thinking, the unfavored result we are trying to change is not the problem. The problem is in the “gap” between the current results and the desired results. The method to achieve the desired results takes a deep study and reflection of the current theories, beliefs and assumptions. These are then challenged to create a new result. The new plan is evaluated after the behavior is performed to see if the desired results have been reached. If not, the plan is adjusted and the process continues until the desired results are achieved. This is how Lean creates continuous improvement.

We need to constantly challenge our belief systems so we can continue to grow and learn. Change the beliefs and assumptions to change the thinking, which changes the behavior, which culminates with different results. Go ahead…try it!