Volume 16 Number 12 - December 4, 2018


Ten years ago I trademarked my process Finish Strong®. It is based on the premise that operations is much more than an implementation tool, or a means to an end. Operations is the strategic function that delivers competitive advantage profitability and brand loyalty to the marketplace. Or doesn't.

Finish Strong® begins with an understanding of the market and company goals. It then creates operational systems that build in completed work to support those goals. It is dotting operational i's and crossing operational t's.

Some people think Finish Strong® is the opposite of Lean (continuous improvement) and of innovation. They couldn't be more wrong. It fortifies both.

Too many companies, including a few of my clients, implement 10 priorities 75% of the way and complete none. That festers a confused culture and makes no one happy. Not your customers, your suppliers, or your employees. When leadership doesn't live completion, follow up, and verification, the rest of the organization believes they can skip those too.

How many of your "kaizen blitz" open action items are complete less than a week after you "finish" the event? In all my years of consulting it is exceptionally rare to see that done. Most kaizen events are: basic intro, get some data, stir up the pot, make some recommendations, tell management all about your wild success, and shut it down. The newspaper action items are forgotten. Actual results that continue in the future? Learning that should be leveraged? You'd have to measure them to know. PDCA is so powerful, yet...few have the discipline to Finish Strong®.

Years ago ISO was summarized as "say what you do and then do what you say." Many have ISO certification, but the vast majority scramble as the audit approaches. Why? Because they don't do what they say on a day-to-day basis. And ISO documents are likely better executed than are announced priorities.

Finish Strong® does not mean in any way, don't leave your comfort zone. In fact, it positions an organization to learn in ways that facilitate and support innovation. If we don't finish things, if we have entirely too many priorities to succeed with any of them, how are we better innovators? We're not.

Innovators try and learn from trials. They don't take a few actions and make a decision about the viability of a new idea. They envision a different future and they leverage current knowledge to create products and services that deliver that future. Sometimes they're right, and sometimes they're wrong. But they don't thrash around chaotically.

The winner of any race always comes from among those who finish. Not from among those who invest energy but then move on to a different race. From among those who finish and Finish Strong®. You have to finish to win. Whether in your current efforts or in innovation.

What does that have to do with your company? Simply put, a strong finish can differentiate you from your competition, leaving a positive and lasting impression in the minds of your customers. In short, it can make you an energized winner.

The Starting Pistol

William James:
"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"Energize your organization by insisting it Finish Strong®!"

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