A few years ago, a good friend of mine suggested that you get a much crispier roast potato if you par boil them and then roll them in flour before adding them to the oil in the roasting tin.
Armed with this suggested improvement, I ran home to be met by a stony silence from Mrs G! “So, you think my roast potatoes are no good,” was her response. “No,” I said (sweat beginning to break out on my brow), “I just thought that we should try a different idea to see if it improved the taste.”
Mrs G was not impressed and, much as I tried to convince her that I was only looking for an improvement, she was still suspicious that I thought her existing efforts were no good (she actually cooks a mean roast spud!). My attempts at improvement on the potato front ended in failure!
The reason I relay this story is because I have recently noticed that people often become defensive when faced by improvements suggested by others. We are often not as open as we should be and this negative reaction can put a stop on others making suggestions (particularly if those people work for you).
Rather than meeting the idea with a positive response such as ‘that’s a good idea,’ we have a tendency to ask questions: ‘why have you done that,’ ‘what was wrong with the original’ or ‘why are they making changes to this?’
Improvement to me is about constantly questioning the norm and looking for better ways of doing things and this means remaining open-minded to all ideas. Creating a positive atmosphere where all ideas are taken seriously is a really important skill that an improvement practitioner has to develop.
Remember the noble roast spud? There are no doubt many ways to roast the potato but that has only been achieved through many years of trial and error by improving upon the basic concept. So next time you feel a negative reaction coming, just think of a roast potato!