New Year, New Habit – Talking Up Lean Six Sigma!

Have you heard of, or are you taking part in RED January? RED stands for Run Every Day. Those signing up make a commitment to run (or move!) every day in the month of January to help raise awareness of the mental health charity Mind, and open up conversations about mental health. I can proudly say I am a REDder, and have achieved all my running goals so far.


There’s a Facebook page for RED January too, and I take a look now and again for extra motivation. There’s plenty available! Whether from an Ultra marathon runner or a Couch to 5k-er, almost every post is a celebration of achievements or a recognition of the achievements of others. For some this is  running a personal best, for others it is finding the strength to get dressed and leave the house. If someone is struggling, they get nothing but positivity and encouragement from others. The way people talk about themselves, and the comments they get from others have a definite impact.

Having heard recently about the apple experiment I’m having a go, with RED in mind. The experiment involves cutting an apple in half and putting each half in a separate, airtight container, labelling one half as a Bad Apple and the other half as a Good Apple. It also involves talking to the apples! The Good Apple gets lots of praise and encouragement, it’s a great piece of fruit! The Bad Apple gets criticised and put down. It’s a disgrace! I’m looking to see if my results replicate what others doing this experiment have found, if negative talk will speed up the decay of Bad Apple, and if I can preserve Good Apple by talking it up. Its early days for my apples but I can already see a difference. Bad Apple is decidedly browner than Good Apple and doesn’t smell so great.

Apple Fruit

Talking up ourselves, and our work achievements isn’t always easy to do but there are so many reasons to do it. If negative talk can make Bad Apple decay faster, what could it do to the projects we’re working on? Let’s make 2018 a year of Talking Up. Your enthusiasm will impact and influence those around you. (hello Stakeholder Management!). Remember this next time someone asks how your project is going. No one wants their work (or themselves!) to be regarded as a Bad Apple, so don’t encourage this by describing it so.

Remember also how success stories have a big influence on the culture of an organisation – these  are the things we’re proud of! – and look to create a legend. A simple way to do this is to develop an elevator speech, i.e. a brief message of about 30 seconds, the amount of time it would take to get from the ground floor to the top floor if you were taking the lift. Include what your project has achieved so far. Even the quickest of wins should be mentioned. We encourage this at the beginning of projects but its something people should do more of during the project and at the end as well. If you hadn’t done what you’ve done, those benefits would not have been delivered. Go you!

You might find that working on the project you have been talking up rather than talking down starts to feel more enjoyable. On day 5 of RED January I started to enjoy the work. And I can’t wait for the results.

The poem called ‘Thinking’ by Walter D. Wintle sums things up brilliantly…but let’s ‘SAY’ as well as ‘THINK’, for the sake of healthy habits and keeping our Lean Six Sigma apples fresh.

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost a certain – you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost;
For out in this world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can!


Happy New Year.