April 25, 2014

Delegating by capacity

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Delegating is supposed to be about understanding the work flowing through your organization and then assigning that work based on skill sets and availability of the resources within your control. What I’ve experienced in far too many situations, however, is where delegating work takes place via a mechanism of “I am going to horde as much work for myself as I can and when I simply can’t do it all any more, I’ll leak out small bits of tasking for you to take care of.”
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Together is Better: Employee Safety and Lean Practices

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TweetThe safety of employees is among one of the top ranking objectives of most businesses. When an employee becomes injured at work, there are many consequences that can come into play such as loss of a skilled employee, worker’s compensation claims, and possibly an OSHA investigation. When an employee is injured it takes a toll [...]

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A powerful habit: commit to being a better person

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You are flawed.

Accept it.

I don’t care what age you are, or gender, or what you’ve accomplished in your lifetime (or not) – you are flawed. There are things about you people don’t like, even if you’re unable to admit that that is true (which is a flaw) or you don’t see yourself the way those people see you (another flaw).
Here’s the truth: you’ve got problems and things you really need to work on, personally and professionally. We all know that’s true, so here the real question: What are you doing about it? [Read more]

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Stump the chump and the art of accountability

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This past Thursday night I delivered a presentation on understanding the 7 Wastes of Lean and how they are manifested in project management. It was the largest gathering I’ve spoken to yet, and presented some interesting audience dynamics that were far different from when I presented the same topic to about 50-60 people at the New Hampshire chapter. Overall, the presentation was fairly well received, however, and I think I delivered my point. It was good speaking experience and gives me some time to reflect on how to work a larger room. At the end of the presentation, a question was asked of me by an audience member: “How do you make people accountable?”

I won’t bore people with the usual rhetoric: Approach the sponsor for additional support, lay out ground rules for the project team, establish tasks and task owners. Those things are fairly simple and rely on utilizing tools rather than getting down into core people-centered concepts. My best advice, then, is this:

Make friends. [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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From The Onion: Intern disrespects self

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A great post on the Onion depicts the plight of interns at Fischer Marketing. According to the article, “Supervisor Encourages Interns To Take On More Responsibilities Of 3 Full-Time Staff Members” the interns were told that the best way for them to get the most out of their internship was to take on as many duties as possible.

although no one will directly state that it’s mandatory, you definitely get the sense that any poor intern who decides not to take on tons more work, with no monetary compensation to begin with, simply isn’t working hard enough to get the most out of the internship.

Of course, the article is a bit of a farce – this is The Onion after all. Nonetheless, there were some all-too-real takeaways that came to my mind. [Read more]

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So what if it’s important?

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I wish I had a nickel for every time some new initiative was rolled out, sometimes with mandatory attendance at grandiose presentations proclaiming the utter importance of the initiative to the future survival of the company. If I did have a nickel for every one of those, I’m certain to have a whole lot of nickels.

Unfortunately, asserting that the reason for change is important violates the Fat Smoker principle, as I like to call it, which was a term coined by David Maister. Essentially, it is the awareness that although we know what the problem is, we rarely address it, no because we don’t know what the right thing to do is, but because in order to get to something good we must first go through something difficult. [Read more]

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Netflix culture and the Core of Operational Excellence

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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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The height of disrespect for people: A UK Healthcare nightmare

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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.
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In the age of engagement, you can’t thwart ambition

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There are more articles, books and posting out there on engagement, creating engagement, the benefits of creating engagement, and so on than I can count. So, of course, I’m going to write a post about engagement (Once in a while, I do like to suppress my contrarian urges and go along with the crowd). Instead of yet another voice telling you how to generate engagement, however, here’s a tale of how to make sure it gets utterly destroyed. [Read more]

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