Former Red Sox star Ted Williams is considered the greatest hitter in baseball… His .406 batting average for the 1941 season is legendary, and he finished his playing career with a .344 overall average, 521 home runs, and a 0.482 on-base percentage — the highest of all time.
A newspaper reporter once said to Ted, “Gee Mr. Williams, you’re the best batter the game has ever seen — you must be a great student of hitting.”
Ted replied, “No sir, I’m a great student of pitching!”
Just as there is a difference between focusing on hitting versus pitching in baseball, there is a big difference between focusing on “improvement” versus “waste” in the Continuous Improvement arena.
As many CI leaders know, and as Ted Williams knew, seeking solutions to the latter in both of these instances is the key to achieving breakthrough results in the former.
In other words, it’s the understanding of what waste is and how to search for it, that makes all the difference. In fact, if your implementation of Continuous Improvement is simply to look for ideas for improvement, you will follow a road of diminishing returns. But if you search for WASTE, regardless of whether you already have a solution, you can delve into the underlying causes to make truly important improvements. And with each
significant transformation, new opportunities will come into view. Recognizing waste is a matter of vision, and vision is the starting point of real business transformation.
In our next post we’ll share ideas on identifying waste.