Category Archives: Personal Development

Test Beliefs Against Data

I like this quote because it touches on a couple of other ideas I have read before. One author I like (Joiner) states that all leaders need to treat decisions as experiments.  Lean challenges HiPPOs (Highest Paid Persons Opinion) to use data in decision making instead of through assertiveness or by being charismatic. The quote below is a good reminder to always experiment with theories to be able to show data if the theory is true or not. It also helps me really notice when opinions are made verses asking for objective data to support.

“In a world without data, opinion prevails…Most managerial dictums are hypotheses. A hypothesis by nature is useless unless proven by data…Asserting an opinion as a fact is a lot easier. Pretending that our assuredness reflects objective truth is certainly convenient …we need to test our beliefs against data…Managers must see themselves as experimenters who lead learning, not dictators who impose control.” – Peter Scholtes “The Leader’s Handbook pages 29,33

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Data & Charts, Gemba, Health Care, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Kaizen, Lean Hospital, Lean Hospitals, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Plan-Do-Check-Act

PDSA Is The Ultimate Success Formula

I recently uncovered a box of books I thought was lost years ago (before I knew about 5S!)  This time capsule contained material I read about 15 years ago while still in college and managing my own direct sales business during summer breaks.  It was fun to flip through my dusty paperbacks and read my notes.  One of these books was “Unlimited Power” by Tony Robbins.  Little did I know it at the time, this influential book was my first introduction to Plan-Do-Study-Adjust thinking!

Robbins writes about what he refers to as the Ultimate success Formula and points out that this is the consistent path of people who have attained excellence.  Here are the steps:

  1. Know your outcome
  2. Take action
  3. Recognize if your actions are taking you closer to your goal or farther away
  4. Develop the flexibility to change your behavior until you get what you want

These steps directly reflect the Shewhart PDSA Cycle which is a core principle for Lean practitioners.  I truly think it is the ultimate success formula!

By following PDSA, you will save yourself the waste that comes from doing an activity without knowing the outcome you want. You won’t be stuck in analysis paralysis and will actually do something to make improvements.  You will continuously improve when you seek evidence from your actions to see if they are producing what you expect. Being able to adjust and change your approach in order to achieve the results you want will put you miles ahead of someone who keeps trying different variations of the same thing but never getting different outcomes.

One big learning I had from re-discovering this book is that I have been drawn to this kind of improvement thinking for my entire professional working career.  Even tough I didn’t know what Lean was, I was getting a little glimpse of it!

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

Leave a comment

Filed under Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Plan-Do-Check-Act

The Waste Of “Managing Up”

Time spent trying to please your boss is processing waste and provides no value to your customers.  Leaders and staff need to recognize this as a major cultural problem because it will negatively affect the long-term success for your organization.

Mark Lovas, one of the best leaders I have ever worked with, blogged in “Being on purpose and off self“:

Leadership: how much time do your people spend trying to please you versus getting the desired results? Are they experts at managing their leaders and mediocre at doing the actual thing? Are they getting good at the job or managing up? I’ve found a tremendous amount of time can be wasted by approval seeking within a company. Powerpoint, meetings, and calls devoted to finding a sense of confidence in the organization, not doing the actual thing.

In my experience, most leaders are not people who consciously demand this sort of activity, but it often persists because those that manage up often receive public praise and promotions.  You would be surprised how much time is spent when staff feel the need to game the system to look good for the boss.  Think about how that time could be better spent doing Kaizen!

Spend time assessing for “managing up” behavior.  It will be a challenging improvement because the causes will be deeply embedded in the system.  The benefit will be a clearer focus on the customer, freed up time to use in creating value, and capacity for future improvements.

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter: @brianbuck

6 Comments

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, customers, Gemba, Improve With Lean, Kaizen, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity, Waste

Be A Difference Maker

2012 is the year to be a difference maker for all of us.  We have a lot of opportunity to make things better for our customers and better engage our teams.  Here are some tips to make a deep impact this year:

  • Embrace The Kaizen Spirit: Masaaki Imai says “The Kaizen spirit encourages thinking about how to change, rather than why it can’t be done.”  Don’t let the excuses (even really good ones) hold you back from looking to find a way to make a difference.  As Mark Graban suggested recently, let the identified barriers become your first problem statement.
  • See How Your Role Makes A Difference: Seek to discover how your role directly makes things better for customers or how it supports those that interact with them.  Also consider what you can do to make a difference with the people on your team by being a better listener, encourager, or other things that help people make improvements.
  • Be Approachable: If people avoid talking with you, you can’t make a difference because you will not understand the current situation.  Being inclusive allows you to build trust and begin to help influence positive changes.

I am sure many of my readers are already making huge impacts on people’s lives and in the organizations they work with.  What other suggestions do you have for people to be a difference maker this year?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, customers, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity

Joiner’s Wisdom: Customer Centered Employees

“Employees will not be able to give customers the attention they deserve if they fear making a mistake, if they get blamed for problems that are outside of their control, if chaos prevents them from doing their work efficiently, if decisions depend on a manger’s whim instead of data and logic, or if managers focus more on figures than on customers.  They need to believe they are an important part of a team that operates to serve customers.”Brian Joiner: Fourth Generation Management, Chapter 6: Customer Focused Strategies, page 100

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development

Shhh! People Are Learning

I had a great experience recently when I was able to sit in on a meeting that was being led by a client.  They were debriefing an event and dealing with some uncovered problems afterwards.  I was thinking of some potential counter-measures or approaches to understand the problems deeper but the team came up with everything I was thinking on their own!

As leaders and consultants, it is so important to give people the space and time to figure things out on their own.  Be there to help if struggling, but allow them the ability to experiment and try things.  Coach to the method of thinking but not the solutions.

For me, Lean is about developing thinking and getting results. Unless there is an emergency requiring quick action, no result is worth sacrificing the time spent developing thinking.  Investing in people will help organizations thrive in the long term.  A company or hospital with more Lean thinkers will be more competitive than another that is just implementing the tools.

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

2 Comments

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Personal Development, Problem Solving, Respect For People

Funny Escalations

I recently discovered this funny online webcomic 1.00 FTE.  This particular one reminds me of the waste of overburdening people.  An unreasonable request is made to a team and escalation is conducted to force it to action.

What is a better way to meet with senior management about this? 

  • Bring the senior leader to watch and talk with the team (gemba) to find out why they can not do the task.  There may be waste causing them to not be able to complete the task.  They may not have the resources or skills.  There may be other barriers for them.
  • Deeply understand the task that is being requested.  The task may not fit into the organization’s strategy or help your customer.  The task might not be worth doing right now (or ever).  It may just be someone’s pet project.  The team may have bigger priorities.

Keep on improving!

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

2 Comments

Filed under Business, Change Management, customers, Encouragement, humor, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Personal Development, Project Management, Respect For People, Strategy Deployment

Lean Related Posts Roundup

Since my work banned access to twitter, it is not as easy to share great Lean related articles.  I will do this on my blog now!

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS| Google Reader| Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, customers, Gemba, Health Care, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Lean Hospital, Lean Hospitals, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Problem Solving, Productivity, Project Management, Respect For People, Visual Communication, Visual Language

The Jury Is Out

Last month I served on a jury and really enjoyed the opportunity.   The pamphlet that was handed out to all jurors had some advice that I think is good for those in a Lean organization:

“It is enough that you keep an open mind, use common sense, concentrate on the evidence presented, and be fair and honest in your deliberations.  Remember: Don’t be influenced by sympathy or prejudice.”

Keeping an open mind is important for innovation.  So often our minds want to keep things the same or we may stretch to optimize how things are.  An open mind will help you create something  new.

Common sense is woven throughout Lean thinking.  While the concepts are simple, the applications of them are elegant.

Going to gemba will be the key piece of evidence for you to concentrate on.  The facts you witness and hear will help you make a good verdict for what improvements to make.

Lean is about focusing on your customers and what your business needs to prosper.  This focus helps you to be fair and honest while avoiding sympathy or prejudice.  Pet projects or individual agendas may not always fit into Lean thinking.

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS| Google Reader| Twitter

2 Comments

Filed under Change Management, Encouragement, Gemba, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Kaizen, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Plan-Do-Check-Act, Problem Solving, Root Cause

Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs“, posted with vodpod

 

Steve Jobs has a reputation for being an outstanding presenter.  This slideshow from Carmine Gallo is inspired from the book of the same name which I have seen a lot of references to lately (RSS readers may need to open post to view)

What tips do you have about presenting?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Communication, Consulting, Encouragement, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Personal Development, Problem Solving, Productivity, Project Management, Quality, Storytelling, Visual Communication, Visual Language

Motivating Knowledge Workers

Dan Pink has an outstanding TED talk about how to motivate workers in the 21st century (some readers may need to open this post to be able to view the 19 minute video).  Dan’s message about the difference between what science knows versus what business does will hopefully give you a new perspective. 

Leadership can get into a trap when it tries to get compliance instead of commitment or engagement.  Dan discusses how incentives can do more harm for your business.  The speech discusses the need to move from a reward by carrot or punishment by stick practice. 

Dan also speaks about an interesting study by Dan Ariely whom I greatly admire.  I wrote about how his findings can help you connect actions to cost.

Please comment with your reactions to Dan’s speech.

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

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity, Project Management, Respect For People

“Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”

Remember the song “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”? 

I was thinking how appropriate some of the lyrics are for people who see problems in their work area everyday that never get fixed.  Encourage your teams to make problems visible so they can begin to solve issues. 

  • Make a whiteboard where everybody writes problems they see. 
  • Have blank A3 paper handy so someone can begin to uncover the root cause. 
  • Remind people to not just keep problems limited to memory because in a fast-paced workplace it is easy to forget or trivialize as time progresses.
  • Assign or facilitate someone in the workgroup to own the resolution of the problem.
  • Reinforce a culture where leadership supports problems being visible and not used as an easy punishing device.

Giving your team an avenue to express the problems they see will bring massive improvement to your organization.

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

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

1 Comment

Filed under A3, Business, Change Management, Communication, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity, Respect For People, Visual Communication

Learning Mindset

Learn something like you will be required to teach it someday.

That advice was given to me when I was in college and selling knives to pay my way through it.  We had sales conferences and some speaker, I cannot remember their name, gave this principle to me and I try to use it every day.  This blog is a reflection of this mindset.

When you read a book/article, hear a speaker, or get mentored, try to learn with the intensity that you might be called on to help someone else learn the same thing.  You take on an additional responsibility if you know you are not learning just for your own sake.  Not everything taught to you will be perfect or relevant but you will begin to look for the gold nuggets to pass on to others.

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

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Personal Development, Productivity, Reflection, Respect For People

Brain Rules for Presenters (and Lean)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I have not read John Medina’s book “Brain Rules” yet but this presentation from Garr Reynolds makes the book look fascinating (RSS readers may need to open post to view presentation).  If there is any trouble with the embedded video (sometimes SlideShare loads forever when I embed it), the original source is here.

Some elements really fit in with Lean thinking:

  • The comments about instruction space sucking the brain power out of people is quite apt to consider if you are trying to create a learning organization. 
  • The focus to minimize interruptions to gain quality is a form of waste to remove. 
  • I love the phrase “going analog” because it does not have to rely on technology.
  • Noticing where there is force feeding but little digestion makes me think of how respect for people is being practiced.
  • “Pictures beat text” is a great clarion call to make the workplace more visual.

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

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

more about “Brain Rules for Presenters“, posted with vodpod

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Communication, Consulting, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity, Project Management, Respect For People, Visual Communication, Visual Language

Book Review: Flawless Consulting 2nd Edition

Peter Block’s “Flawless Consulting Second Edition” is an outstanding book and I recommend it for anybody who is ever asked for advice.  Consulting skills are not limited to people with a consultant title but anybody who helps others but has no authority over the outcome of their advice.  Leaders, project managers, church elders, event planners, and many others will find benefit in this book.

I bought this book because I am an internal consultant.  I had a coach challenge me to define my role as a consultant.  I was not able to do so in a way that satisfied me.  This book helped me tremendously to be purposeful in all of my consulting work.

Block defines the roles and needs for both consultant and client.  He provides the thinking behind the business of each phase in consulting.  The definition and encouragement of how to be authentic are very actionable.  The book also highlights the differences between external and internal consulting. 

Some stand out chapters cover: 

  • Contracting with a client (this is not just a formal & legal contract but a relationship contract)
  • Understanding, recognizing, and dealing with resistance
  • Obtaining data
  • Engagement thinking and tools

”Flawless Consulting” has many elements consistent with Lean thinking such as whole system engagement, being a learning organization instead of only focusing on teaching, and moving away from just engineering to include the social side of change. 

I really like the wide margins in the book to be able to write my notes and thoughts.  A good sign that I get something from a book is the amount of pencil marks inside of it.  Practically every other page has some notation from my pencil!

If you liked this post, then try:

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

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Project Management, Respect For People