April 21, 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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Pushing through disillusionment

Struggling Tree
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Achieving a goal is often just about working through the grind. There will be disappointments and more than enough rejection, and dejection to go around at times, however, that’s when determination comes in to play.

Humility is necessary, because when you fail, you have to recognize that it’s not everyone else who is wrong, short-sighted, stupid, ignorant or lazy. They simply have a point of view and a set of preferences, as well as maybe a few bad habits, that you haven’t yet figured out a way to overcome. The problem might not be with your message, but with your ability to deliver that message. Understand that there’s something in your ability that’s lacking, which is why you’re unable to penetrate theirs. [Read more]

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Leadership, Culture and the Situation of Marissa Mayer

marissa_new4
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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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Netflix culture and the Core of Operational Excellence

netflix_defeats_blockbuster_by_plaidklaus
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A presentation from Netflix describes the core concepts that define the culture at the company. First released in 2009, it provides insight into what co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings calls the “Freedom and Responsibility Culture”

There are several elements of the document that sound just like the ROWE movement that I discussed quite a bit on this blog last year. Just as I found with ROWE, however, the Netflix culture manifesto fails to deliver a significant “Wow!” factor. Why? Because Lean and Operational Excellence provide a much deeper management philosophy that takes into account every aspect of either the ROWE or Netflix schools of thought, and then some. [Read more]

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Beware the surge

Storm Surge by jedidogbert
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I have witnessed or been a part of multiple process improvement efforts – whether they are small in nature and affect only a few people, or large, transformational endeavors designed to reshape the culture of an organization, if not its entire business model. Some of them succeed, some of them fail, all of them go through a period of a quick, immediate up-tick in performance that looks and feels like success. A while later, however, there is a let-down.

I suspect, however, that the problem when it comes to facilitating adoption isn’t so much one of driving people to the intended outcome, but in allowing people to change the outcome. [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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Stump the Chump, and the Steve Jobs Paradox?

Paradox
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I was asked a question that – as I put it, “Stumped the Chump.” One gentleman asked, in response to the portions of my presentation that focused on the Respect for People foundation of Lean and, in particular, the Shingo model, how I would characterize Steve Jobs and Apple’s success, given that Jobs was a well-known egomaniac and had a reputation for being quite stern and non-compromising.

it has stuck with me for the past couple of weeks, as I felt the need to contemplate the question a bit further. What I may have come to realize, is that there is something of a Paradox involved when a true visionary ascends to the position of influence within an organization.
[Read more]

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Do you envision the ideal?

clear_by_mrszeldalink-d3k78z5
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If, as you encounter problems, you are simply responding to each one in turn without much sense of how to learn and grow from it, you will only find yourself meandering from problem to problem forever. In fact, you will likely find the same problems keep popping up – to be countered with the same solutions. Consequently, a boring, mindless do-loop results. In the end, this dynamic leads only to activity for the sake of activity – and not for purposes of driving towards some goal.

Activity for its own sake will, inevitably, be revealed as a waste [Read more]

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What to do when you don’t know the way to go

plot a course for home
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My 3-year-old is following in his 7-year-old brother’s footsteps and taking an intense interest in Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer. After a couple years of not having to listen to the theme song ad nauseum, we’re back into the thick of things.

For those who are not familiar with the show, Dora frequently goes on adventures and isn’t certain which way to go. In those situation, she calls upon her trusty map, which shows her the way.

If only we were all so well prepared. [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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