A year of improvement blogging: my annual review

Free image from Pixabay

A year ago I set myself a Challenge: to blog more.

At the end of 2018, despite having my blog since starting my thesis, I hadn’t really gotten going with it. I had sporadically blogged, when the mood took me. But there was little by way of topic theming or frequency or any kind of real coherence. My most read blog entry had only just met 400 views, and I was aware that when I had blogged on other corporate and institutional sites, I had more readers. So I was a little dis-satisfied, my blog was originally set up to practice writing, yet I wasn’t using it that way, and I wasn’t really reaching an audience. Did I have something I wanted people to read, my voice or was I just messing about? Was I going to treat it more seriously? After all, it is a little rich to expect others to read my blog seriously, if I wasn’t serious about writing a blog.

That’s where the Challenge came in. Specifically, I set myself a pattern of work of 1 blog/month, with a Challenge goal for readership of at least 500 on one blog after 12 months. Setting the Challenge helped me get going and I have found I blogged more frequently and have enjoyed it more. I even blogged about blogging!

I started to write more, and more often. I tried to play it less safe, writing about more personal and controversial topics. I started with ‘What can I learn from Toyota Kata and tests of Change?‘ Comparing the Toyota Kata with the Model for Improvement questions. Then whilst in Florida at Disneyworld, I was inspired to think about improvement brands, why we have them and who benefits. You, that is the improvement community, helped me out with inspiration next, at #Quality2019, thank you. Then my daughter, who at the time was still an aspiring 1st Dan in Tang Soo Do, but after persisting with practicing, she is a 1st Dan now 😊😊. These were the blogs that got me going and gave me confidence, helping me meet some target conditions and start to build a blogging habit. But I still hadn’t met my Challenge.

I stepped out a little more, writing more of what I really felt needed to be said, even if in my head anyway, the risk of poor reception was higher. I rather self-consciously blogged about my very enjoyable lean podcast with Mark Graban, and added some other technically orientated blogs: about waste reduction, PDCA, visual management, lean cells and about unlearning. Increasingly though, I noticed my focus moving more towards what leaders in improvement need to get their heads around. I really feel an absence of this debate. What does it mean to sustain a transformation? How can we build more collective improvement? How can leaders use improvement to reduce burnout and bring joy in work, rather that just rely on positive thinking for resilience? What might a responsive improvement framework look like? What does it really mean to lead improvement, is it like bringing up a baby? How do we move towards improvement capability and what are we doing now that might need to change?

Then the magic experiment happened, I blogged about my personal improvement leadership journey whilst learning to practice Toyota Kata, My Kata Anniversary. This blog met my Challenge, wow did it fly, compared to the others. Not only that, my readership grew by 251% over 2018, and spread from a mostly US/UK audience to a much more global one, including readers from as far away as the Ukraine, Venezuela, Peru, Kenya and New Zealand, (loving the WordPress stats functionality, not enough data for a run chart yet though).

Views by country, 2019

What did I learn? More personal blogs and original content resonate, talking about my own fears and vulnerability in learning Toyota Kata resonated, blog amplification via other sites, podcasts and newsletters helps and wow, what an amazing Toyota Kata improvement community of practice. Thank you for making me feel so welcome and making me feel like I belonged with you. I really appreciate that.

Yay, I met my Challenge. Vastly exceeded it actually, way earlier than intended. Go me! My annual review scorecard:

  • 1 Challenge achieved
  • Several target conditions achieved and obstacles removed
  • Readership increased, thank you so much
  • Volume of blogs increased, >1/month
  • More fun in practicing writing and practicing Toyota Kata, hell yeah!

So what is my Challenge for 2020? The amazing author and improver Karyn Ross (you can follow her @KRClean4service on Twitter) set a Challenge last year to make all her own clothes when speaking and running events. My daughter is currently working on a variant of that Challenge (we nearly have a pair of PJs and a skirt). For 2020, Karyn has set a gauntlet for all of us in her improvement community on LinkedIn asking us all, what book are we writing in 2020? 😮😮😮😮

Happy New Year folks. What is your personal Challenge for 2020?


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