Good enough to go


A couple of weeks ago, we did our first “Diagnosis and Review” session as part of hoshin planning.  Diagnosis and Review is the opportunity for an organization to assess where they are at with their various projects and initiatives: what’s working well, what’s not working well, and what course corrections may be necessary.

Over the years, we’ve been told by more than one consultant that we’re an “interesting” group to facilitate — both our leadership team and the whole staff.  We’re still not sure if that’s a compliment or not. But we’ve heard it enough times to recognize that these outside observers have identified something in our behavior that we weren’t aware of.

Christine Dunn, our consultant from John Black and Associates, began by saying that she was going to use a phrase to keep us moving forward and prevent us from over-thinking/over analyzing our discussions.  That phrase was “good enough to go”.  As a facilitator, when she felt we had come to some level of agreement or consensus she would ask us “Is it good enough to go?”.

Since that session, we’ve been using that phrase a lot around here. When it feels like we’re over-thinking or over-analyzing something, we challenge each other by asking “is it good enough to go?”.  Usually, it is.

It’s been interesting to watch us incorporate this new mantra into our organizational culture.  On the one hand, it’s great because it keeps us moving forward, prevents us from spinning our wheels, and focuses us on making a decision.  This “good enough to go” mentality feels similar to “small tests of change,”  which are a critical part of quality improvement (QI) — and something that we often don’t practice as much as we preach it in our own work at HQC.

At times though, I do worry that our new “good enough to go” catch phrase may prevent us from having the deeper, sometimes difficult conversations we need, to sort through the complexities in our work internally, and in our work to support the health care system.

I’m beginning to see that you need a balance of the two.  You need the permission to move forward and to encourage others to do so. But at the same time, you don’t want to miss out on the difficult conversations that can help get you to to a new level of creative, innovative thinking — which is also important for improving our systems.

Perhaps we need an adapted version of the serenity prayer:

Grant me the ability to accept when things are good enough to go,

The courage to have the conversations when things aren’t good enough to go,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Then again, maybe I’m over-thinking it…



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4 Responses to “Good enough to go”

  1. Gary Teare
    Gary Teare
    September 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Hi Kyla,
    Great post! You covered the key issue about not “over thinking” yet didn’t “over simplify” either…
    Like any quotation or sound-bite of wisdom we glean from someone that we look up to for inspiration it is always important to understand the context in which the wisdom is most apropos.
    I just read the book “Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results” by Mike Rother. I believe this is a MUST READ for all leaders in Saskatchewan’s health system… but I’ll make that the subject of MY next blog post (which I’ll try to not over-think…and actually get written!). A key message from that book that relates to the “good enough to go” mantra is that this attitude/approach (i.e. “don’t over-think”) is best applied when we’re coming up with ideas for actual improvements/countermeasures to try. Better we go with a “good enough” improvement idea to actually test in the process rather than try to come up with a whole list of them… or worse – the “perfect” one.
    But where “good enough to go” might be false wisdom is in applying it too glibly to our effort to understand what is really going on now in a process. Because everyone’s tendency is to jump to solutions, we can afford to spend MUCH more time and effort though is in the understanding of the current state – the “go and see”. We shouldn’t cut that work short until we are sure we have a thorough understanding of what is really happening in the current process. That is – we need to set a higher bar for “good enough to go” in that part of the improvement cycle. 🙂

    • Kyla Avis
      Kyla Avis
      September 25, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      Thanks Gary! Your insights from the book is helpful to me as well. I still do believe that the “good enough to go” mantra is a useful tool for us so this helps me better apply it where it’s needed and avoid using it when it’s not.

  2. Jade Gulash
    September 21, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Hmmm, good thoughts, Kyla. I think you are right that we need a balance of the two. As your colleague, I agree that we tend to over-think and over-analyze our decisions at times. Which is precisely the reason that I think that we need to continue to focus as much as possible on “good enough to go”.

    Like anything you do repeatedly and regularly, our over-thinking has become habit, just part of our nature. I don’t think it will be something that we give up quickly or easily. But maybe, if we keep focusing on “good enough to go”, we’ll find a happy medium. Just my opinion, but I doubt that we’ll find ourselves giving up those deeper conversations completely. They are just too ingrained in the way we work.

    • Kyla Avis
      Kyla Avis
      September 25, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      I agree Jade – thanks for you comment. For me, at this point, it’s about breaking some bad habits that have developed over time which is good for everyone. It’s good to shake it up around here now and again!

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