April 21, 2014

The Easter Egg Hunt and perfectly normal disorganization

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Our small town up here in New Hampshire hosted an Easter Egg Hunt and, of course, with a couple hundred children between the ages of 2 and 10 milling about, things went along….well, let’s just say they went along.

The organizers of the event scurried to and fro to make amends for oversights and, since they were clearly working very hard to make the event enjoyable, no one was pointing a finger. The thing that I saw, that was truly bothersome to me, was the indifference and acceptance of such near-pandemonium as normal. It is that acceptance of disorganization as normal, [Read more]

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More evidence of performance does not mean there is more performance

3D Pie Chart
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I have been on troubled teams who are often commanded to produce reams of data and documentation for their every move to date, forecast every move going forward, and track every movement against that plan in leghty detail. Once all this documentation is in place, the project appears to be much more organized and coordianted, however, overall performance rarely improves.

The moral: Documentation isn’t the solution to a performance problem. [Read more]

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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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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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Understanding questions

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I came across this post from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University detailing the different categories of questions:. While intended to be questions asked of students in a classroom, these exact same questions are the sort of things that ought to be asked in the workplace when attempting to promote continuous improvement. This list of questions serves as a useful study guide for anyone looking to conduct a root cause analysis or initiate a process change. [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

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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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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Project problems can’t be solved with an operational focus

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Very often, projects are assessed by using metrics that are not about identifying unique & temproary activities. Rather, persistent, on-going measures such as average weekly costs or hours worked or material dollars spent are used to determine if a project is running as it should.

Unfortunately, these sort of measurements are more attuned to understanding operations because they establish linear costs over time. Project have peaks and valleys, spikes and low points, periods of tremendous activity and periods when they have very little at all.
[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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