Better, Then Bigger

improvement traffic sign

Andy Stanley tells the story of a company founder who, in the middle of a meeting, started to bang his fist on the table. The meeting was to discuss how to counter the expansion plans of their competitor, and everyone was saying the same thing: let’s get bigger faster.

When he had the attention of the room, the founder offered this incisive thought: “Gentleman, I am sick and tired of hearing you talk about us getting bigger. We should be talking about getting better. If we get better, our customers will demand that we get bigger.

The company directors took his advice, and shifted their focus from expansion to excellence.

The year the competitor filed for bankruptcy, the company posted a billion dollars in sales.

Listen to the story here.

In everything we do – at work, in our relationships, in our businesses – we have to start with the belief that we can be better. That there is always room for improvement.

Room to do things differently, and to do different things.

We can be more productive, less wasteful, avoid hurting the environment, empower ourselves, empower others, and create better relations: between us and our co-workers, and between our organization and the people we are here to serve.

Before we make plans for expansion and conquest and being #1, let’s pause and ensure that we are being better all the time.

The Japanese call it kaizen – 改善 – the practice of continuous improvement.

If we are making those small steps and improving all the time, other people are going to notice, and they will ask us to be more visible, more accessible, to take centrestage.  Which is where we wanted to be in the first place.

Let’s get the sequence right. Better, then bigger.