Current State

Where are you sitting right now?…or are you standing? …or are you laying in bed while reading this?

Describe your immediate environment, the chair, the bed, the room, the lighting, in detail.  Are you comfortable? Is the lighting adequate? Do you have what you need at hand? By pausing and looking around and within you are able to answer each of these questions with some degree of detail and certainty. You are able to describe your current state.

The starting point in continuous improvement is always current state, an accurate description of where things are right here,right now. This is true on an individual level and for teams and organizations. An individual may need outside help from a coach or mentor to define current state. Teams and organizations will require someone to facilitate the process either from within or from an outside source. It is important to know the right questions to ask to build a clear and accurate picture of current state. Situations that involve multiple groups, departments or individual responsibilities will need to be sure that all related parties are represented in the current state process.

In our Problem Solving Training we teach some very useful tools  to help facilitate defining current state. Using a time line or a flow chart can help. Pareto diagrams and mind mapping are also taught.

Defining current state also helps identify key components or elements in a process.

It is not uncommon for some moments of enlightenment to occur when a group is assembled that does not normally work together. Often new appreciation for what others do in a process is found. Redundant or unnecessary steps may also be revealed. It is always rewarding work and will impact the decisions made moving forward when selecting the desired future.

One potential pitfall while defining current state is to make faulty assumptions. An example would be to assume everyone in the group knows or agrees on all of the key steps in a process. What is a key step to one person or team may not be key from another’s perspective. Another example would be to assume that all in the group think a procedure benefits the work flow when, in fact, it may be hindering the process for one department. While addressing these types of issues will become important in future steps, it is critical to remain focused on developing an accurate picture of the way things are right here, right now.

Ultimately the team or individual working on current state should develop something either visual or in writing. A visual representation may be a detailed flow chart, demonstrating the current steps in a process. An individual may produce a chart or text describing their current state. The important thing is that current state is documented in a way that is clear and accurate.

Berkshire Group, Inc.’s courses for leadership development include detailed instruction in leading teams and in mentoring individuals. Visit us at www.berkshire-leadership.com or on Twitter to learn how we can train your leaders to be effective at defining current state.