Reducing Friction

[article]
A Samurai Lesson in Process Improvement

to write his treatise and die of old age. Musashi was a master practitioner, not an arm-chair theorist. Throughout his book, he reminds students to remain goal focused as a matter of, quite literally, survival. In one passage, Musashi writes: 

"The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him. More than anything, you must be thinking of carrying your movement through to cutting him."

While Musashi might seem obsessed, it's hard to argue with a guy who was undefeated for forty years. The processes Musashi describes-parrying, hitting, springing, etc.-are essential to sword fighting, but they are only useful if they support the goal: cutting your opponent and winning the duel. This is a useful lens for reviewing the processes established to support our organizational and project goals. The processes should clearly align with the goals.

Pay attention to unnecessary friction accompanying tasks and processes in your organization as you go through your day. Is there a sound rationale for the apparent friction? Where you encounter needless friction, do what you can to reduce or eliminate it. By doing so, you improve your organization's efficiency and ability to deliver. Repeat this process as needed. Share some of the energy you save by posting a comment below so others can benefit from your experience.

Reference:
1Nobel Prize Foundation

About the author

Payson Hall's picture Payson Hall

Payson Hall is a consulting project manager for Catalysis Group, Inc. in Sacramento, California. Payson consults on project management issues and teaches project management. Email Payson at payson@catalysisgroup.com. Follow him on twitter at @paysonhall.

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