“How do you eat a bowling ball?” is a question I have often heard our Plant Manager pose to certain individuals or groups within our organization. Of course, the bowling ball represents something most would consider impossible to “eat.” Personally, I can think of certain vegetables I might prefer to eat less than the bowling ball but, regardless of what is on the plate, the answer is still the same: “one bite at a time.” More often than not, “one bite at a time” defies our inclination toward instant gratification (especially with things that are quite difficult to chew and swallow). Can you remember a time in your childhood when you wished your homework would somehow (magically?) complete itself? I can recall times when said wishing occurred almost daily. And, yes, I said “in your childhood” to mercifully divert attention from those of us who may have made that wish just yesterday—where the “homework” may be a major project, a business overhaul, a difficult personal goal or any number of other challenges. Sometimes we just want things to be done—now!
At ICD, we recognize and acknowledge our tendency to desire immediate results, but we have also learned to appreciate the invaluable benefits of incremental improvements at all levels of our operations. Found within all that happens between the start and completion of any endeavor is the substance that makes the activity worthwhile. Valuing the process of becoming is at the core of ICD’s continuous improvement philosophy.
There is a saying: “don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” What we want most, at ICD, is to be better today than we were yesterday and better still tomorrow than we are today—to consistently and reliably progress toward World Class excellence with a mindset from which we never allow ourselves to arrive at a place where we are content to remain. Our “absolute best” must always hover just beyond our grasp—but we will never stop reaching for it. Giving in to any temptation to shortcut our way to the results (what we want now) is to sacrifice all that would make the most desirable results both genuine and sustainable—the becoming.
Do we ever get discouraged striving for the “unattainable?” That is, do we get tired of nibbling away at a bowling ball? We could. Growth and change, even in the most positive ways, will never be completely free of frustrations, struggles and sometimes downright suffering. But, as the saying goes, “attitude is everything.” And, along with the proper attitude, healthy perspective is the key. Victory for us is finishing that one bite—and then the next one—and the next one—and…. We enjoy the satisfaction of realizing immediate results when we make our goals bite-sized! What is the “win” for today that will make us a better company tomorrow? And before we know it, we’ve taken the last bite of that bowling ball—a major company milestone has been accomplished. Now, serve us another one, please!
Question: How might embracing a “one bite at a time” philosophy
contribute to your business success?