Lean Culture – “All Good”- Or is It?

All good blog cartoon

By Anthony Clyne – TXM Consulting Director

To me the term “all good” portrays low expectations and high tolerance for things not being quite right. The listener can interpret it as ambivalent, dismissive or even defeatist. Leaders need to role model excellence and we have a social and professional responsibility to help people understand that improvement is a pathway to a better society.

“All Good” is often used in the context of co-operation. The underlying message is meant to be “I’m barracking for you.” This is a real positive that can be acknowledged and reinforced. However there are better ways to express this than “all good”

My responses depend on the scenario. In the work context of operational excellence the line “Always room for improvement” Or “Key goals met” are better alternatives. These expressions acknowledge the positives while subtly pointing out the need to keep improving.


So how do you respond at the supermarket check out? My response is based on the belief that I have 15 seconds to positively influence the person. Lines that I use are:

“You did well, keep improving.”

“Much better than last time.”

“Still there were some delays out of our control.”

“We did the best we could.”

Imagine watching a football game and the coach said “All good” to acknowledge the team’s performance.  Coaches are the public profile of operational excellence. Professionals need feedback. High frequency, sincere, specific feedback embedded in conversation is a large part of personal development.  The tag “All good” can is often used to avoid giving feedback. This avoidance is disrespectful. Saying “All good” to your boss, peer, or direct report is not a signature of a high performing team.

How do you respond?

Timothy McLean

Author: Timothy McLean

Timothy McLean is the Managing Director of TXM Lean Solutions and is an author of Lean books.