Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Law of Continuous Improvement

I just got back home from the office a few minutes ago. I am sitting down on a chair going though an old album of mine. It contains several pictures I took while in school (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria). 8 years ago, these were my best pictures. The suits and ties I wore in those pictures were my very best. If I wear the same suit and tie today, several of my friends and colleagues will surely have a good laugh! Even now, I am smiling all by myself! In all honesty, I have improved! Things have changed drastically.

If you use yesterday’s ideas to do business today, you won’t be in business tomorrow

I am reminded of a quote I heard at about the time frame I was talking about. Is says “If you use yesterday’s ideas to do business today, you won’t be in business tomorrow”. What a powerful statement. It is expedient for each and everyone to improve continuously in order to be able to succeed in the 21st century. No one achieves excellence in life and in business without a strong commitment for continuous improvement. Infact, the more you improve yourself, your systems and your processes, the better the results you get.

I learnt a vital lesson this week. I was in a training that raised my curiosity about the history of Olympic long jumpers. I have since done a research and what I found out is interesting. Permit me to share it with you.

The high jump is an athletics (track and field) event in which competitors must jump over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without aid of any devices. It has been contested since the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. Over the centuries since, competitors have introduced increasingly more effective techniques to arrive at the current form.

The earliest technique used by high jumpers was the scissors jump. With this method, a record height of 1.68m was jumped. It took the introduction of another jump technique, the eastern cut off, to be able to break this record. With the eastern cut off technique, American M.F Sweeney raised the world record to 1.97m in 1895. Another American, M.F Horine had to develop another more efficient technique, called the western roll, to increase the world standard to 2.01m in 1912. His technique predominated through the Berlin Olympics of 1936, in which the event was won by Cornelius Johnson at 2.03 m (6' 8"). American wunderkind John Thomas pushed the world mark to 2.23 m using the straddle technique, an improvement of all former techniques. Straddle jumpers took off as in the Western roll, but rotated their (belly-down) torso around the bar, obtaining the most economical clearance to date. Straddle-jumper Charles Dumas broke the elusive 7' (2.13 m) barrier in 1960. Other great jumpers followed suit with record around 2.13m and 2.28m.

It wasn’t until the 1968 Olympics that Dick Fosbury, who used an improved technique, called the Fosbury flop, beat the world record again. Taking advantage of the raised, softer landing areas by then in use, Fosbury added a new twist to the outmoded Eastern Cut-off. He directed himself over the bar head and shoulders first sliding over on his back and landing in a fashion which would likely have broken his neck in the old sawdust landing pits. After he used this Fosbury flop to win the 1968 Olympic gold medal, the technique began to spread around the world, and soon floppers were dominating international high jump competitions.

What is the greatest learning in this study? It’s quite simple. In order to move to the next level of results, you need to continuously improve your techniques, methods, processes or even yourself. Do you hope to make waves in this world? Do you hope to smash some records? If you do, then, you need to commit yourself to continuous improvements.

In order to move to the next level of results, you need to continuously improve your techniques, methods, processes or even yourself.

I have attempted to explain the need for continuous improvement in this piece. In my next post, I will share my ideas on the tools necessary to improve on a continuous basis – either as an individual, as a team, as a company, or even as a nation.

Till then, see you at the top of the topmost top.


Alex Mugume said...

Brilliantly said: see you at the top of the topmost top.

adeola said...

There is no better way to achieve greatness than to improve yourself. I like the quote on using yesterday's ideas to do business today. Great

Fola' said...

Really interesting post, but it'll be nice to be the one to discover a new and better way of doing things...

Bayodele said...

Hi Pastor T;

Well said - Thank God for grace and mercy.

You're a blessing anyday!


AIM said...


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You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!