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CrossFit and Continuous Improvement

Quality InsightsJanuary 19, 2024

Can continuous improvement really be compared to CrossFit? Author Rosa Castells takes you through both to discover the similarities and the path to improvement.

Someone special told me about a sports discipline called CrossFit. It was the first time I heard that name and learned that it was training composed of functional exercises, executed at high intensity, in which there was a program of strength and general fitness to improve or keep the body in good condition.

It may seem similar to other sports disciplines that many of us know, but I was struck by the fact that he stressed that CrossFit is distinguished by its terms and for being an observable, measurable and repeatable program, based on data.

Soon, motivated to improve my physical condition and curious to understand the aspects that most caught my attention, I decided to try it and was surprised by the similarities between this sport’s discipline and the companies that base their management on continuous improvement systems. Both share key elements, such as the definition of objectives, plans, scalability, team effort and achievement of results.

Once the similarities are discovered, let us see how they can help us to improve or maintain a company in good condition:

1. Definition of objectives

As in any sporting discipline, it is important to set achievable, quantifiable and measurable objectives in time. In CrossFit, as in other disciplines, we begin by identifying what we are capable of and setting ourselves realistic short-term goals, according to our conditions. Goals that are achievable with effort and work.

In the business world as in sport, fixed objectives are necessary to know where and how we are, and what it is that we intend to achieve.

2. Define a good plan

Once the objectives have been defined, it is a matter of defining a good plan: a strategy with a clear path to achieve satisfactory success in our objectives.

In CrossFit, there is a very common concept called scalability – because not all individuals have the same physical conditions. So, I propose a personalized plan.

Each company is different and must be analyzed in detail to define its own plan: an adapted and scalable plan that will take it from the starting point to excellence, thus achieving the objectives set.

3. Progress tracking

How do we know if we are doing things right? Let us get on the right track by looking at the data and tracking our progress.

In CrossFit, clear and precise objectives are marked. For example, I want to get to 10 pull-ups within 2 months or I want to run 5 kilometers in 25 minutes. To do this, we design a plan with a series of defined milestones with measurable actions and, thanks to the data taken throughout each, we can measure our progress.

Something similar could be reproduced in a company, if we define some correct key performance indicators (KPIs). We can visualize them in a dashboard and evaluate their progression through a good communication system, where we define the actions and responsibilities that lead us to achieve the objectives set.

4. Team spirit

In the world of CrossFit, everyone talks about the “community”; you have to live it to really feel the team spirit that is observed in the environment. It is something that, on a personal level, I had never had a chance to experience. Advanced athletes help you progress more quickly and new members of the community contribute their knowledge and experience – because you meet people who come from other disciplines.

In sport, as in the company, in many cases, the results are not achieved by one person, but one team. We must trust and support each member of our team and try to channel the energy toward achieving a goal.

Multidisciplinary teams give us different visions to achieve our achievements, while each one brings the best of himself/herself in his/her area.

If there is a rule that should be sacred when it comes to proposing an improvement strategy, it should be that the company’s ongoing objective is to convince all levels to participate, from the general manager to the operator or the intern.

5. Discipline, education and training

How many times have we heard the phrase, “You are not born knowing”? Because in CrossFit, they take this very seriously and, for a newbie, it is something very encouraging. Now, in return, you have to contribute your knowledge and experience, demonstrate discipline and be consistent with the need to comply with the training plan that will help you achieve your goals.

In a company, as in CrossFit, discipline must be one of the fundamental pillars for every individual. If we add this, the formation of continuous success is guaranteed.

In conclusion

My conclusion is that there is a great parallel between the values/fundamentals of CrossFit and companies that implement continuous improvement as their management system. It is key to consider whether or not we are willing to face new challenges and strive to improve and achieve them.

Are you willing to get your company in shape?

By Rosa Castells

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