I Know I need to improve to survive – so where do I begin?

It can be very challenging, moving from firefighting and wearing so many hats already, to determine where to begin in an improvement journey.  You know you can’t survive if you don’t improve, so what’s the first step. 

I used to hike the White Mountains with a guy named Bill that I worked with at Raytheon.  He went up there every weekend in the summer and skiied Killington every weekend of winter. 


Bill was a good guy to know.  I didn’t have time to plan my diet and wellness program with a friend like him.  I was too busy burning calories to do that.

By having a mentor to help encourage me to go up there and pick out “easier” 4000 foot peaks to climb,  at first, Icould make my way into hiking, one hike at a time.

It was a process:  check the weather, get there early, dress properly, get good shoes, bring the layers, water and nutrition needed and take one step at a time.

We’d drive up to a trail head at 6:00 am, check our stuff and start hiking.

Another key to success: take breaks along the way to assess how things are going, ask yourself if you want to stick with the original goal, modify if required and take more steps.


I noticed that I could handle the chore as long as  I focused on the journey, not so much the end point, the peak. Along with breaks, it was also key that we would stop along the way, when we would reach an outlook or shoulder of the mountain to appreciate reaching that milestone. All I had to concern myself with was my place on the trail and the next trail marker, yards ahead, at any point along the way.

I noticed that if we reached yet another milestone,  I could begin to imagine reaching the next one, with recovery.

Eventually, the last milestone was the peek.  It usually followed reaching the tree line, where tall trees gave way to smaller shrubs, then just rocks with moss and liken. As  Irealized I was close to the end,  ifound new reason and energy to make the last leg.

The world at the top of the Presidential Range was like the surface of the moon.  The reward was reaching this new place, this new state, mentally as well as physically. It was like being in the clouds. All my worries and concerns were 4,000 feet below me now.

I wanted to stay there for hours, but there was the time of day, weather and other factors to consider, like the two hour ride home, without falling alseep.

The business process improvement journey is similar to becomming a hiker in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  You learn, prepare, ask, make mistakes (hopefully not serious, catastrophic mistakes) learn, improve and achieve.


The journey starts out by seeing where you are; the trail head if you will.  It means taking a look at the map, seeing what’s required for that day and being honest about whether you are prepared.  Then it’s about taking one step at a time, hiking the trail and assessing along the way.

Some days you reach the peek, some days you don’t, but you end the day stronger, smarted and closer to your vision of the future than when you woke up.

What are some of the business-related mountains you’d like to climb?  What do you need to bring with you?  Are you up to the journey?  What are the milestones along the way?

Feel free to reply with your thoughts, feelings, questions, concerns and comments.  Whether it’s meeting your customer’s requirements or getting out there and facing a new challenge, I’d like to hear from you!


Mike Weekes, http://www.whataboutquality.com

About Michael R Weekes

With more than 25 years experience in business process improvement, Mike Weekes is known as the couch-potato-turned-marathoner. Mike helps organizations in the NFP, manufacturing, healthcare, government / education domains to save more than $200,000 a year in operational expenses using a simple philosophy: EVERYTHING IS A PROCESS.

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