I took a set of knives to the market yesterday to have them sharpened and I overheard the clerk describe the difference between honing and sharpening to another customer. I previously thought that the two words were more or less the same.
Honing is the straightening of the edge of an already sharp blade. With use and through the sharpening process, the knife edge gets dinged or bent and this process simply brings the steel back into a straight line so that there is a uniform cutting surface. You have probably seen chefs on television drawing a knife across a stone to do this. It could also be described as an alignment.
Sharpening is the removal of material, usually through grinding. This is the subtraction of material in order to gain a more defined cutting edge. It will take less work to slice through something than with using a dull blade.
Both honing and sharpening are necessary for the maintenance and care of a set of knives.
While still standing in line, it clicked that this is not unlike what I do in order to get a team to work better together.
I first remove what is not needed from an existing set of resources that might be used to accomplish a task and then I align the pieces as necessary to make them work more effectively together. Over time you will have created a team that is more focused in organization and its approach to doing business.
It's definitely not an easy process because it often involves changing how people think about or accomplish their work. You are in position to change people's minds about what they do.
This is important because through consulting I see leaders and managers trying to solve problems by throwing more resources in the form of time, people, or tool at the issue. Instead, why not take resources away, see what happens, and then realign people as needed to get everyone working together?
Then keep adjusting until you find the right fit that addresses or solves your problem. It’s a consistent cycle and process of adjustment until you find something that works. Don't be afraid to experiment.