April 18, 2014

Anticipation vs responsiveness

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individuals and organizations still struggle with being proactive and preventing problems. My explanation comes by way of a saying I once wrote on a whiteboard in a co-worker’s cubicle when the powers-that-be in that organization were touting the virtues of responsiveness:

Responsiveness is required only by those who have failed to anticipate.

It’s easy to instruct others to be proactive, mostly because the virtues of being proactive are so intuitive. If you have a keen enough understanding of your environment, however, it becomes possible to predict what might happen and prevent the problem for arising. That, of course, necessitates that you actually have an understanding of your environment. [Read more]

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Five types of toys, and a lesson for the grown-ups

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Like most parents, I buy my kids toys. I buy them mostly for Holidays and birthdays, and sometimes just because I can, and sometimes because I can’t listen to the begging any more, too. On top of that, there are the presents from other people, the junky things you get from Happy Meal boxes and the things they save up their allowance for, too.

Of course, the intrinsic value of the toy has nothing to do with the importance of that toy to the child. Through the years of watching my kids play with, discard, or completely ignore their toys, I have come to realize their toys fall into just a few categorie [Read more]

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Presentation tip: Don’t rely on the presentation

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Don’t rely on your presentation to capture the audience, rely on you ability to present.

By presentation, of course I mean PowerPoint decks or other visual aids. Quite frankly, unless you have something technically complex that can only be understood with a graphical depiction, or you have something uproariously hilarious that can only project its humor when seen. If you do not have these things, then you really don’t need slides at all.

My short speaking experience is already telling me – don’t even think about opening that PowerPoint file until after you have perfected your what you will say and how you will say it. [Read more]

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Leadership, Culture and the Situation of Marissa Mayer

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Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, sent a shock wave across the internet and the blogosphere last weekend when she announced that Yahoo’s policy of allowing people to work remotely would be ended, and that remote-working employees would need to begin reporting to the office by June 2013.

The debate has raged over the wisdom of the move, with a heaping ton of criticism coming from culture-change advocates who point to research indicating that remote work programs are beneficial, while the other side of the coin points to lost engagement and productivity.

Mayer is attempting to benchmark against other organizations and believes that worked over there will also work at Yahoo. That’s a bit short-sighted, however, it’s also the exact same dynamic being offered by her critics – finding the best case example of a situation just like your preferred alternative, and then using that as evidence that the alternative is the right one. [Read more]

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The height of disrespect for people: A UK Healthcare nightmare

The_Doctor_will_SEE_you_now_by_DaYDid
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I came across this lengthy article from The UK’s Daily Mail detailing the nightmarish conditions at Staffordshire Hospital, where it is reported that between 2005 and 2008 as many as 1,200 patients died needlessly due to appalling conditions and neglect.

Keep those dates in mind – this is current. The events described in the article did not happen in some long-forgotten past or in a third-world hell hole. This scandal is unfolding, right now, in one of the most developed nations on earth. If you want to know just how far an organization can stray from the Respect for People ideal that lies at the root of Lean and Operational Excellence, forget Foxconn and look at the UK’s NHS.
[Read more]

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The value of delayed decisions

decisions by mihaibrrr
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Most conversations about improvement revolve around finding ways to speed things up. Whether by focusing on the elimination of unnecessary activities, doing less more often, reducing clutter, training the mind to avoid multitasking, or any other approach to speeding up decision making the prevailing message is clear: do things faster.

The desire to do things faster necessitates making decisions faster, of course. Process improvement schools of thought are, essentially, designed to speed up decision making to one degree or another. Last year, I came across Frank Partnoy’s Wait, however, which advocated something different – slowing things down. [Read more]

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Every customer trusts you. But what do they trust in?

Trust by alireza1
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Customers will trust in something when it comes to your company – but what will they trust in? People will, quite quickly, develop an expectation of what they are likely to get from you – good service or bad, high quality or low, good price or not. What you want to establish is a positive trust, one that is based on customers consistently getting what they value. [Read more]

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Managing the complex organization

Traffic Pro
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Teams in simple environments are more able to “manage” themselves – which means they are able to organize their own activities and determine how to go about their work, assigning tasks to each person within the team. Disputes are resolved, ideas are discussed, actions are taken. All of which is to say that these teams, perhaps, don’t “manage” themselves – but, rather, that they lead themselves. Managing is, of necessity, a bureaucratic and dogmatic process. Coordinating the activities of a group of teams, especially as an organization grows increasingly complex, requires someone to help all those teams get organized. In other words, someone must manage the interactions. [Read more]

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Perseverance, intelligence and flexibility – 3 things that will never get you past HR

The Processor
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Although individuals are touted as “the greatest asset” by many companies, the emphasis placed on truly dealing with those individuals is becoming less and less. Hiring is based on nothing more than technical skills, and even within that, the keywords describing those skills must match exactly to what the person who wrote the req thought of when they were writing it. Since we all know that establishing supportive, long-term relationships are the key to enjoying work, getting the most out of people, fostering creativity and innovation – what sense does it make to put such a heavy over-emphasis on skill sets and key words? The keyword – based paradigm is born from a belief that managers don’t really ever have to engage their employees. The belief, instead, is that by finding someone who already knows how to do that job, that the person can be plugged into a role and left alone, forever. Like buying a new gear for a machine – simply insert the right part correctly and it will run all by itself. Unfortunately, humans don’t operate that way. [Read more]

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Just say NO to manually adjusting data and reports – 4 reasons why

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We have all heard the phrase; “you can’t manage it, if you can’t measure it”. I also believe that “you can’t manage, it if you are always adjusting it”.

When you work in a culture that is very numbers driven or reliant, there will always be pressure to adjust your data or reporting to account for outliers, one-offs, process errors etc. This is a very slippery slope. You can not eat a single potato chip and you can not make only one adjustment.

When data and reports are “clean”, i.e. with no manual adjustments, the data is objective and we treat all parties/divisions consistently and fairly. When we add in manual adjustments, we immediately convert objective data into “suspect, subjective data with inconsistencies. I am very uncomfortable making critical business decisions using inconsistent, manually manipulated data (and you be should too).

Here are 4 reasons why you should not create an adjustment culture in your organization: [Read more]

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