Category Archives: Alignment

Relieving Workplace Mayhem

Does your workday frequently feel like mayhem?  I have talked with many people who feel like their job is filled with unnecessary chaos.  I believe a lot of organizations self-inflict themselves with craziness.  There is a way to stop the mayhem!

Overburdening people (and equipment) is a form of waste.  Your organization must first identify where people experience this waste.  Usually it is very easy to find just by asking who feels they are overwhelmed. 

Here are some examples of what you may find (also note that most below do not have a paying customer waiting for the outcome):

  • Leaders asking for non-standard reports with quick deadlines (usually to sit on their desks for weeks before they look at them)
  • Constant edits or change of direction to documents because planning is often done after the content was created
  • Support departments get projects dumped on them without ever problem solving around their ability to have capacity to do the work
  • Somebody’s procrastination or lack of planning becomes another person’s urgent priority

The next step is to acknowledge this kind of mayhem is a problem.  This step is difficult because firefighting heroics and the rush of adrenaline from last-minute deadlines becomes “how things are done around here”. 

As an outside observer, I usually see little need for subjecting employees to this kind of work condition and believe it lowers engagement.  Until teams align that overburdening staff is a problem, it will continue unabated.

The final step is to identify the root causes of the mayhem and eliminate them. 

What sort of unnecessary mayhem do you experience in the workplace?

(NOTE: The attached video is only related to this post because of the title and I thought it was a cool rockabilly song!)

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Filed under Alignment, Change Management, Communication, Encouragement, Five Whys, Gemba, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Kaizen, Learn Leadership, Muri, Plan-Do-Check-Act, Problem Solving, Productivity, Quality, Reflection, Respect For People, Root Cause, Waste

Why Don’t Old Processes Die?

Have you ever improved a process and were suprised that workers end up doing BOTH the new way and the old way? 

I have seen data that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a new process has removed frustrating waste and increases value for the customer, but still the old way persists. 

I recently talked with a friend who’s business was acquired by another company five years ago.   My friend’s business was strong in the US while the other company reigned in Europe & Asia.  Seems like a good fit right? 

The company is no longer doing business in USA.  My friend’s opinion: the new company never fully integrated in the five years since the acquisition.  They continued to ride the fence of both their old way of work while adopting the practices of my friend’s business at the same time.

Here are some of the reasons why I think people do not let old processes die:

  1. Leadership Support & Alignment – With all change, leaders need to support improvements and be aligned.  If one leader is perceived to think differently about the new process, workers who want to keep the old process will reach that leader.  Once that happens, you will have people doing both old and new!
  2. Nemawashi Skipped – Consensus was not reached amongst stakeholders and those doing the work. 
  3. No Reinforcement Built Into New Process– I recently saw a great example where 5S was included during of a point improvement project.  Things like shadow boards and having a place for the right tools at the right time will help reinforce people to keep up the new process because it will be convenient.
  4. Failure to “Turn Out the Light”– Once an improvement project becomes part of operations, CLOSE the project.  If a project manager is always working on the same thing, staff never get the impression the change is finished and complete.  Yes, we do continuous improvement but the last go-round is over and the new process is finalized until we revisit later. 

 What other things do you think keep old processes from going away after a change?

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Alignment, Business, Communication, Data & Charts, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Project Management

Alignment Is Important

Alignment is important for projects and improvement efforts. 

The communication plan I usually use for projects is the Green, Yellow, or Red indicators to show if we are progressing to plan or not.  This has proven to not be enough.  This became apparent when we had two stakeholders together in a room.  We saw how they weren’t aligned in the project vision.  We recovered from this, but I have learned a great lesson.

It is important to build into your communication plan a method to take an “alignment pulse” among stakeholders, sponsors, customers, ect.  People’s minds can drift away from the original plan and goal of the project.  Create visuals to ensure everybody sees the project as you do to generate the conversation.  Hold difficult “stop the line” meetings when you see the alignment being out of sync.

We always hear about managing expectations, but you need to begin with alignment instead before you can do that!     

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Filed under Alignment, Improve With Lean, Project Management