Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pursuit of Perfection

One focus on the lean manufacturing path is the pursuit of perfection. When this point is brought up, many people don’t believe perfection is possible so this objective is pushed aside as not realistic so why try?

The same goes for goals of zero inventory, zero machine breakdowns, zero accidents, zero defects and zero customer disappointments. How many of us believe these goals to be impossible? So why try?

After all we are just human and humans are imperfect and make mistakes. So why try?

All systems are imperfect including lean manufacturing so why try?

Looking to religion, as Christians we are on a path to live by the example that Jesus Christ has given us. In other words, we try to be Christ-like in our words and actions. Many other religious beliefs, if not all of them, teach each follower to become better in their life. All religions acknowledge our human imperfections yet each pursue a path of perfection in life. Perhaps the quest to be better is at the core of being human.

I believe that is our purpose in life-to become a better person so “trying” is what life is all about.

The same goes for our pursuit of perfection in lean manufacturing. It is all about the never ending pursuit of perfection. Emphasis is on the pursuit and not on perfection. Are we moving to be better today than yesterday? Can we be closer to perfection each day? Do we learn from our mistakes?

Do we see the gap between where we are today and our vision of perfection? Do we view this gap as the impossible or as an opportunity? Do we view this gap as a pointless journey or a path of many small steps?


Jamie Flinchbaugh said...

“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” - Vince Lombardi

Tim McMahon said...

It is better too travel hopeful than to arrive.

The journey is the reward

Mark Welch said...

There ARE a lot of common values between Christianity, and for that fact, some major world religions, and lean. It's largely what makes lean so palatable to me. I don't have to put one face on at work and another at home.

Nicely written, Mike.

Mike Gardner said...

I play darts at the competition level and I have learned that perfection is attainable. It certainly is possible to throw a dart and strike the exact center of the board--I have done it myself. A more perfect throw is not possible.

HOWEVER--perfection is fleeting. Once I have thrown a perfect bullseye, does that mean I am now perfect? Of course not. I have to go to the line again and throw again. Most likely I will not hit the exact center every time, so I will not ALWAYS be perfect. We can achieve perfection, if only temporarily, and that is why we must try, try, and keep trying--in order to reach perfection again and again.

Umbahli said...

Thank goodness that perfection is fleeting or life would be awfully boring! Yes, the journey is the reward, and the journey is also the challenge! Even children toss aside toys that are too predictable or "easy" to manipulate. That's where play and meaningful work are similar--they take rising to the challenge.

Gerry Tahash said...

Mike, Have you read "The Puritan Gift?"
I did, in January.
It was meaningful to me.

Mike Wroblewski said...

I have not read "The Puritan Gift". Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out. The last good book that touched my heart was "The Shack".