Six Sigma was designed to improve the performance of the manufacturing industry, lean manufacturing reduces waste, kaizen for continuous improvement, ISO for standardisation, PRINCE2 for project management and so on. All of them take a niche perspective on achieving operational excellence. I am, however, a believer in the principles of Jeet Kune Do.
Through decades of study, Bruce Lee the famous martial artist and philosopher, concluded that traditional martial arts had become too rigid and unrealistic. He called martial arts competitions ‘dry land swimming’ and he believed that real combat was spontaneous and required the best of what an individual practitioner was capable of. His study and practice led him to create the concept of Jeet Kune Do.
Lee stated that Jeet Kune Do is not an organised institution that one can be a member of. His concept does not add more and more things on top of each other to form a system, but rather selects the best thereof. Bruce Lee believed that the process of improvement was about creating a complete understanding and then discarding that which was not necessary. A sculptor picking up a block of clay and removing everything unnecessary to create something of function.
That’s our approach to excellence here. Not to layer one approach on top of another, although we use part of all the methodologies above. Not to adopt a complete methodology without question or fluidity. But to take the best of all the knowledge available and see how it works for us, as best we can to apply the principles of Jeet Kune Do.
Bruce Lee felt there are some universal combat truths that were self-evident, and would lead to success if followed.
Bruce Lee liked a straight punch and so do I. Tackle even minor challenges directly and with extreme accuracy. Target the source of the problem and avoid any impact on existing processes when you strike.
Bruce Lee didn’t give anything away. Make certain that your core processes don’t leave any room for interpretation. Our quality standard is 100% so there are some things that must be done to reach that, no matter what.
Be like water
Every situation is varied and constantly changing. Make certain you have the right people in place to adapt quickly if something unusual or unpredicted happens. Be as fluid as you’re able and adapt like water does.
Economy of motion
Waste no time or movement. Use efficiency, directness and simplicity in implementing and running operations. Conserve some energy so that you’ve room to give more in a pinch and use that extra effort to succeed.
Bruce lee believed in stopping an attack as it was being prepared, before it was in motion. Apply your energy to predicting and heading off challenges before they ever get out of the gate.
Simultaneous defence and attack
Advance and firefight simultaneously to achieve outstanding results. Make sure you’ve the time, expertise and man power to accomplish both. Don’t be afraid to focus on resolving an issue while you’re progressing a new approach.
In summary, no matter which approach, methodology, certification or process you pursue, remember that not all of it will apply directly to what you do. Take the time to completely understand and fully implement the new approach and then strip away the unnecessary. Above all:
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”