April 18, 2014

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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The Easter Egg Hunt and perfectly normal disorganization

easter eggs
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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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Understanding questions

question marks
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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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Stump the chump and the art of accountability

business relationships teams friends
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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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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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A few comments on the language of texting

cell_waves_by_arcticcathuffy-d4sti5g
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I stumbled into a short conversation recently on the value of text-speak or, perhaps more accurately, I was told how text-speak was utterly lacking in value and rotting the minds of the teenage population.

Texting is, indeed, an odd form of communication. You do have to marvel in curiosity at the chronic need for immediate information exchanged, not to mention the superficiality and triviality of the messages being sent. Nonetheless, I retorted, you do have to appreciate the enormous creativity involved in the phrases that kids are developing, as well as the implementation of problem solving skills in order to fit as much information as possible into as few characters as necessary. Given my affinity for efficiency, I like the trend. [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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Toy Dogs and the trouble with short-term thinking

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Last night was one of those unfortunate, frustrating nights in our house. At 3:10AM, the dog decided he needed to go out into the yard, which caused him to prance loudly around our bedroom until we woke up to let him out. Although he woke up both my wife & I, I was awake enough to get out of bed first (which rarely happens), so I let the dogs into the yard, brought them in, and went back to bed.

About 15 minutes later, before either of us could fully doze back to sleep, the 3-year-old started to cry in his bed. [Read more]

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Why your PMP prep doesn’t feel like reality (and why it shouldn’t)

A Break in Reality
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I feel lucky to have the benefit of my time spent trying to understand the Lean paradigm because it is offering so much insight into what the PMI framework is trying to do. It is establishing a standard. It is offering a methodology for managing projects against which all other management styles, and outcomes, can be measured. In a way, it depicts the ideal – if all projects, everywhere, operated in the way the PMI describes, then all projects would deliver on time, within budget, and with inputs from all stakeholders at every level of the organization – including customers.

Is that reality? No. Of course not. [Read more]

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Think small, even when you’re big

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All people have a stake in the performance of the organization. Even without equity and stock options, people still look to their company for stable income, which enables them to lead their lives. When information is withheld or doctored to depict a situation for the sake of not causing a panic, or raising undue concern, it portrays an attitude that states the rank and file simply aren’t able to understand the complexities and must be prevented from learning the truth – as a parent withholds details of an R-rated move from a child.
[Read more]

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