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Part III: Surviving the Passage

Part III: Surviving the Passage

Illustration from The Travels of Marco Polo by Witold Gordon (1885–1968)

We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species.

Desmond Morris, British anthropologist

Observe almost any survival creature, you see the same. Jump, run, freeze. In the ability to flick like an eyelash, crack like a whip, vanish like steam, here this instant, gone the next—life teems the earth. In quickness is truth.

Ray Bradbury, American author

To live means to finesse the processes to which one is subjugated.

Bertolt Brecht, German playwright and poet

To survive there, you need the ambition of a Latin-American revolutionary, the ego of a grand opera tenor, and the physical stamina of a cow pony.

Billie Burke, U.S. stage and screen actor

Why, you ask, would we be talking about survival with respect to process improvement? Well, first, the title of this book includes the word survival (check the cover). Second, because no matter how well intentioned you and your stakeholders are, how good your plans are, or how much business value you look to receive from the initiative, it has to survive to be effective.

In the first two parts, we examined what it takes to get ready for a process improvement initiative in your organization. We talked about models, and tasks, and life cycles that are important to success. But can the trip be taken safely? What do we need to know to survive our journey?

In Part III, we pause for a moment to take a deep breath before the plunge. We consider what it will be like along the journey and identify ways to be prepared for the unforeseen rocks and shoals that lurk just under the surface in every business environment.

Because no one can predict the sorts of problems that will arise, we believe it’s important to prepare ourselves and our team to handle the difficulties without losing ourselves or the process improvement benefits. In other words, we provide a real survival guide for process improvement teams.

But first, we provide a traveler’s tale—a story to help you get a feel for the road ahead through the eyes of one who has gone before you. See what this person experienced and survived. Then we’ll start on your personal survival training.


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