Christianity and the Continuous Improvement Mindset

So I'm working on a project to improve how we're going about the job of releasing millions of children from poverty in Jesus' name.  A part of what we're implementing could be termed a "continuous improvement mindset", and discussions on the subject reminded me of the following post I wrote a few years ago.

I worked in technology management for an uber-successful chemical company back in the late eighties and nineties. I owe so much to that organization because I've based a chunk of my approach to business, ministry and life on a few of the concepts I learned there.

For me, the most important things I learned during that time were the continuous improvement principles taught in the company-sponsored classes on the subject - alongside the many interesting group discussions and the excellent mentoring I received from some of the leaders of that organization.

At first I thought that Dr. Deming's kaizen ("good change") methods of using statistical process control to make products better only applied to manufacturing or business processes - stuff that happened in the lab, or on the production floor or in the office.

I'm certainly not going to lecture here on incremental vs. step-change, process metrics, upper and lower control limits, standard deviations and all the other tools of the business side of continuous improvement.  I'll leave all that to those of you with the intestinal fortitude to apply such concepts in your workplace.

But no matter the precise technique, I've observed that the successful leaders that I aspire to be like "when I grow up" have all adopted the mindset of continuous improvement. They apply the general principles of that discipline in their everyday lives. Each of them has done it in their own way, of course - but they are all "continuous improvers" in one way or another.

For example, continuous improvers:

- question the status quo
- are open to new ideas
- don't ever think they've "arrived"
- crave learning
- seek fresh answers to even the oldest of questions
- value flexible partnerships over rigid hierarchies
- focus on the goals of the future rather than on the mistakes of the past
- read good books written by smart people
- are keen observers of human nature, human relationships and emotional processes
- increase their awareness of the world around them rather than build walls of ignorance
- set goals
- plan the work
- work the plan
- monitor progress
- revel in successes
- learn from failures
- stay positive

and on and on. You get the point.

I think the one statement that sums it all up for me is this:
A continuous improver concentrates their thoughts, their words and their actions toward creating a better future for themselves and ultimately for the world around them.
And I believe it is right there - precisely in that statement - where the philosophy of continuous improvement and the theology of the Kingdom of God line up beautifully. They snap together like puzzle pieces to create a way of life that produces what God wants for us and for the world.

Check this out. In Phillipians 3:15, Paul says,
"All of us who are mature should take such a view of things."
What "view of things" is he talking about, you ask?

It's the view he set forth in the previous few verses. See if you can identify whether or not Paul was a continuous improver based on this passage.
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
What do you say - was Paul a continuous improver?

Father, help me to be always learning, always open to a better way and always focused on the bright future promised in your magnificent Kingdom story. Help me and my friends to live now, as much as we can, in the resurrection-light of your Kingdom to come.


Unknown said...

Nice Post

vlan_tagging said...

Nice sharing my friends.

Regards from Indonesia

Nikodemus A. Soebadyo