What Does it Mean to “Focus on Improvement?”

One of AJC’s values is “Focus on Improvement.”  This very well could be our most foundational value because we can improve in every area – always.  Of course, that’s exactly what we intend.

Here is the excerpt we have in our Company Handbook on this value:

Focus on Improvement – In this value, we practice what we preach.

Process improvement, project execution, change management, organizational development, agile – all of it involves change for the better. We will remain open to improvement, with a critical eye to be sure the change actually does improve things (i.e., we don’t want to change just for the sake of changing). We will strive to use metrics, Key Performance Indicators, and other objective sources of data to prove our improvement value system.

It should be noted that the first step in Improvement is to admit that you have things to improve!  This is where the growth mindset comes into play.  Thank you Carol Dweck, as we are completely sold on the idea that we can continue to grow, learn, and therefore improve throughout our whole lives.

This is the beauty of focusing on improvement! Once you think you can improve, in order to actually improve, you have to do something.  After you do something, you can assess the results and realize you can improve again! In other words, focusing on improvement is a beautiful virtuous cycle.

Focus on Improvement Virtuous Cycle

There are always barriers to people *wanting* to improve.  Improvement requires change by definition because there must be a baseline from which to improve.  Fear is often a barrier to the desire to improve.  This fear could be fear of change, fear of failure, or fear of looking foolish when one is trying something new. 

Knowing that the cycle keeps going can help to relieve fear. 

If this cycle is true, then things will change no matter what – after all, any result can be improved, and trying will just lead to another result that can be improved.  It is liberating to know that there is no expectation to be perfect the first time – that no one is perfect the first time – and that focusing on improvement is another way of playing in what Simon Sinek calls the “infinite game.”

AJC will continue to play the infinite game and focus on improvement.  We hope you will join us, because most games are way more fun with teammates.