The Hamster Wheel

hamster wheel picphotosnetA common occurrence when making change or implementing improvements is finding yourself on what I call the “hamster wheel”.  Everyone is working hard, things are getting done but in the end the results don’t get realized.   This happens when the organization gets too caught up in the process versus the results.

I recall working with a contracting firm that was having difficulty meeting their performance metrics.   At a meeting with their executives, they provided a 20 page power point on all the things they were doing to improve performance.   I acknowledged that it was an impressive list of activities but told them that apparently they were not working on the right things because the outcome was not changing.     It was the classic hamster wheel story.

To keep from finding yourself on a hamster wheel, whenever an activity status is reported, the results or impact needs to be reported as well.  For example, stating that you implemented three improvements is activity (you are on a hamster wheel).  Stating that you implemented three improvements that resulted in $1000 in savings or in a three hour reduction in cycle time is an achievement – you are moving forward.