Our Mutual Friend

Still Life

P.: Richard’s a nice guy.
Zach: He’s changed a lot since meeting a lady friend recently.
P.: (Pauses) Has he changed for the better?
Zach: Definitely. Richard’s got potential.
P.: (Smiles)
Zach: I like to think of him as a work-in-progress.

Life as Art

I’d never heard of someone being described as a ‘work-in-progress’ before. My friend Zach. is an artistic, cultured kind of guy, so when he described Richard as a work-in-progress, he had meant it to be a compliment of sorts. The idea that Richard had the potential to be an artist’s masterpiece. Being a work-in-progress is part of that journey.

Zach’s use of the term ‘work-in-progress’ also reminded me of Lean. In Lean, you strive to first deliver value. You achieve this by minimising work-in-progress. That’s because too much work-in-progress blocks flow, delays value from being realised. Worst of all, it hides waste.

In Richard’s case, he’s the single piece of work-in-progress on his Assembly Line of Life. That fits nicely with Lean where you want to be working on one thing at a time.

From Journeyman to Master

But something’s still missing from the equation. Does being part of the status quo help us become a masterpiece? Does reliving the same year twenty times give us twenty years of experience? Sounds more like a death march to me.

Then it dawns upon me, the most magical ingredient of all.

Kaizen’s for life, not just on birthdays

In life, we are the artist as well as our own potential masterpiece. We become a work-in-progress from the day we’re born and remain one until we die. The Goal is to turn our life into our own masterpiece. To achieve that goal we need to continuously improve. Continuous Improvement forces us to learn. And to change. By changing for the better, we move closer towards our Goal. And so the virtuous circle takes shape to become the wheel that rolls us forward.

Make yours a masterpiece. Love something, change something, make something better.

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