The concept of progressive improvement is often discussed at Silverside and used as a guiding principle for how we work individually and together. Instead of aiming for perfection as step one, take the first step – however faltering and uncertain – and then a second, and then third. Pay attention to what’s working, what’s not, what you would like to try next, and keep adjusting along the way. While this concept is ours by practice, it isn’t ours by Genesis, with one example from many years ago being the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust four-step management method for continuous improvement.
Apple’s ad from September last year is a perfect example of progressive improvement at play. While I wear an Apple Watch, the usage of the video above isn’t an attempt to convince you to buy one. And the fact that it’s an Apple Watch and doesn’t mean I think you should buy one of those rather than a Samsung smartwatch, Garmin fitness tracker, or something from Fitbit. At a broad level, any device that tracks your exercise regime continually will help create the dynamic we see in the video: what would never have flown as a first step when the guy is sitting on the sofa at the beginning (diving into the ocean for an ocean swim), becomes by the end merely the next step. Small steps – stand up, go for a walk, walk faster, go for a run, and ultimately go for an ocean swim shows the principle of progressive improvement in a fun and challenging way. And it’s interesting that the guy at the beginning can’t see the full journey, otherwise he might hold back from taking the first completely do-able step because he questions his current ability to deliver on the fifth one.
In the Watch ad as in life, each improvement creates a new baseline of what’s possible. Each improvement resets the expectation of normalcy, creates new skill and capability, and by implication redefines what the next step could look like. Going from sitting on the sofa to diving into the ocean is a single step too far, but by standing up first, then walking, then walking faster and then running … provides a stepwise set of improvement opportunities.
Progressive improvement is a fabulous guiding principle for user adoption too. Transitioning from an email-driven culture to a collaborative organisation is a step too far if the expectation is a single step (leap!). That single leap is too much, for any organisation.
But a discussion about productivity scenarios – you could do that.
Or commissioning the Collaborative Culture Assessment for your team – you could do that.
Or arranging a discussion with several early adopters at your organisation – you could do that.
What’s your next step?