The KISS Principle

In the early 1960’s, teenager Chiam Witz knew one thing: he wanted attention from girls. After trying all the usual things that boys that age do, he watched the Beatles on television. After seeing the droves of screaming girls he knew he had his answer: be in a band.

After being a member of and starting several, he finally hit upon the winning combination in 1972. He, along with Stanley Eisen, Paul Frehley and Peter Criss formed the band KISS and the rest, as we know, is history (Oh – Chiam would later change his name to Gene Simmons – make more sense now?).

lean-kiss1So what does all this have to do with Lean and Operations Leadership, you say? Plenty!

Gene did what Stephen Covey recommended in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, even if he didn’t know it at the time. He “Began (Begin) with the End in Mind”. He knew what he wanted, only he didn’t know how to get there. After seeing (I’d even venture to say benchmarking) the Beatles, Gene now had his roadmap. All he needed to do was to put the plan into action.

When taking on any new project, you absolutely must know where you want to end up. To start anything without this is either pointless or doomed to fail, and neither of these will do you any good. You have to know where you are heading to know if you’re going in the right direction.

All of this isn’t to say that you must get to your goal in a straight line. Of course, this is the most ideal path, but like Gene, you will hit dead ends and make mistakes along the way. His first band didn’t succeed. Neither did his third or even his fifth. In fact, KISS didn’t start until two of the original members of Gene’s most successful band to date, Wicked Lester, got kicked out and were replaced! Don’t be afraid to regroup or retool along the way. As an old boss I had used to say; “Don’t let best get in the way of better”. You aren’t going to always have the right team, the right timeline, the right scope from the start. The key is having a clear direction – that way, you’ll know if you are straying of course. Gene recognized this as he grew, and wasn’t afraid to make the tough calls to get there. You can’t be, either. Keep your eyes on the goal, and make adjustments as necessary.

In every business, there are continuous improvement activities going on. Regardless of what they are or what industry they serve, remember that they all must follow the KISS Principle!

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