Improve #9: Making things happen (Round 1)
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Johnny's story has nothing to do with the implementation of Quality Improvement for any product or service in any industry, however, it is something that's so real to many. Many smart people have been under the same circumstances but have never been able to get ahead. Johnny Hernandez made the difference.
How did he do it? Let's break down the story in relation to the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. This Round 1 will show us what happened after he implemented PDCA the first time. Debts were far from getting paid, but this round started to get things in motion and things began to change. He plans to gather information, does something about it, which opened the doors to change. Let's see what happened next.
Johnny had gotten used to a vicious cycle that headed to financial disaster. When he was married, he wasn't much in touch with the reality of debt because his wife was the finance manager but divorce changed this. Divorce forced him to get face to face with debt and the loss of a job shook him from his roots.
Johnny acknowledged that he had a big problem and was willing to do something about it. He decided to track down his expenses.
Johnny bought a tiny notebook and started to record everything he spent money on. The prices for an ice cream cone, a soda, a pound of rice, a gallon of milk and a box of cereal were recorded. As a former compulsive spender, being able to record his expenses was already out of his routine but became a new small but great accomplishment.
As days went along, Johnny checked his notebook every Sunday night because he wanted to be prepared for the week. He grouped his expenses into two categories, "wants" and "needs". He noticed that the expenses for "wants" were as much as the expenses for "needs". He learned that he couldn't continue with this pattern. He made the decision to cut down on "wants."
Having direct contact with how much he was spending in the "wants" category, Johnny realized where he was at. As days went along, he stopped indulging on ice cream cones, sodas and movie tickets and the list of "wants" became shorter.
Johnny was in deep debt, newly divorced and without a job. That's enough to lead someone into depression. He struggled emotionally, but he always found a way to put himself together and kept going.
At the end of this first round of the PDCA cycle he accomplished a few things:
Johnny set the PDCA cycle in motion. That's right, things started to move. When we have a problem we don't just look at it, we do something about it
Johnny took the time to recognize that he had to do something and he came up with a plan to record his expenses.
Johnny tracked his expenses and soon he realized that he had to start cutting "wants." This led him to modify his behavior and concentrate on "needs" only. He was confronted with the facts, the long list of unnecessary expenses opened his eyes and helped him correct his behavior.
We are at the end of Round 1. Johnny still doesn't have a stable income but he manages to record and gather data that helped him identify where he was at more specifically. Johnny was willing to make a radical change in his expense habits just by seeing this data. He was far from paying off his debts, but just the first round opened his eyes and motivated him to continue. So, it is time to spin the wheel again and do the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle all over again. What will he do?