Monday, September 27, 2004

Action, Recurrence, Small Steps

by Asim Jalis

Here is a continuation of yesterday's thoughts on actions and consequences, which is a really a conversation about cause and effect. 1. Yesterday I read a book on using small steps to make big improvements ("One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way" by Robert Maurer), which discussed how Japanese companies use small improvements to achieve their goals. The author applies the same approach to help people lose weight and achieve other goals. The book provides almost no new insights, except for the connection of small steps with Japanese manufacturing. 2. Even though we have covered this ground before it was a good refresher. Small steps work because of two principles: (a) Lower The Bar, and (b) Repetitively Leverage Past Action. 3. The LTB connection is obvious. Small steps are easy to accomplish. They are non-threatening. They don't disrupt other commitments. 4. The second principle is related to the idea that the System Has No Memory. Except it is the opposite of this. In reality the system has faint memory. 5. Small steps work if applied repeatedly over a long period of time. Each small action creates a kind of resonance, with all instances of that action in the past. It builds on it. 6. If you put two mirrors in front of each other you can see a kind of infinite reflection of yourself in them. Small steps are like this. Each small step represents a small foot soldier in an infinite army standing behind him. 7. Recurring small steps can create consequences that seem disproportionately big.