Category Archives: Project Management

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

Challenge: Cut Your Meetings In Half

I challenge you to reduce your meeting times by 50%.

Can’t get everything done that you want to accomplish?  We spend a lot of time in meetings but they are not always productive for every member in attendance.  Reducing time in meetings frees you up for more time in Gemba where your time spent is more valuable.  Look at meetings as the first place to remove overprocessing waste.

Here are some tips for your success: 

  • Change weekly meetings to bi-weekly or make one-hour meetings a half-hour
  • Never use meetings to discuss status; use email or post visually in a shared area instead
  • Challenge the meeting organizer to have a clear objective for the meeting before accepting the invite
  • Reduce waiting for people to show up by scheduling the start at odd times like 11:05 or 11:07
  • Gain faster understanding and consensus through the use of visuals instead of relying on just letters and numbers

Check out Reid Hastie from the New York Times article Meetings Are a Matter of Precious Time for more inspiration to make meetings more effective!

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Filed under Business, Communication, Encouragement, Gemba, Improvements, Project Management, Visual Systems, Waste

Progress and Risk Quote

“Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”— Frederick Wilcox. 

This great quote was brought to my attention on Twitter by Royce Williard, Lean Enterprise consultant, author, and educator.  There has been a great boom of Lean practitioners on Twitter lately and I have been finding a ton of value in reading their Tweets!

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

 

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Book Review: Understanding A3 Thinking

A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota’s PDCA Management System by Durward K. Sobek II.



rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is outstanding. I initially thought it would be a quick read since the page count is short, but I found myself slowly savoring it. This book is like a good wine where you appreciate the textures and nuances if you take it slow.

I suggest this book to all Lean practitioners, most project managers, people who use data to understand problems and show improvements, people who like to draw, and anybody else that enjoys the thought process behind problem solving.

This is a great next book for fans of THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24203…

The authors offer profound insights to A3 thinking and structure. They also paint a deeper understanding of the thinking at Toyota. I particularly liked the explanation of nemawashi and how the A3 author must return to those where their concerns were not addressed to explain why.

I found the thinking behind data to be fascinating. It is nice to see how much or how little is used. The authors even give a nice overview of Tufte’s graph theories while providing an easy template to choose the best graph to match your communication goal.

For project managers, the A3 project status template is worth exploring. I have used dashboards in the past but this structure paints a better picture while ensuring the organization’s objectives are still being met (projects can chug along way past this simple goal and this report keeps it grounded).

Last but not least, my organization is in the infancy of launching A3 to our mix of Improvement Workshops and Value Stream work. This book offers practical suggestions for starting A3 at your enterprise.

View all my reviews on GOODRADS.

My GOODREADS review

 

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

 

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Filed under Book Review, Data & Charts, Nemawashi, Project Management

When Worlds Collide .. Kanban and Project Management

It is exciting to see Lean concepts reaching beyond manufacturing and healthcare. 

Cornelius Fichtner recently recorded Kanban – An Introduction where he interviews Eric Landes, an Agile Project Manager in software development.  They didn’t call it out, but they also talk about a visual system for software development.  They even mention the Lean Blog Podcast

More episode resources are located here.

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PM Feedback Requested: PMBOK 4th Edition

The Fourth Edition of the PMBOK(R) Guide comes out today. 

Rich Maltzman, PMP from Scope Crepeis taking a poll on the LinkedIn Project Management Bloggers group for PMs and would like to know if you *care* about this, and your reasons for caring or not.

Using the following scale:

1. Exhilarated, Overjoyed
2. Excited, Very Interested
3. Mildly interested
4. Passing interest
5. Doesn’t mean anything to me

…please provide your rating number and a very quick rationale as to why you chose that number. Do you refer to the PMBOK Guide often? Are you using it to study for the PMP Exam and wonder how the test changes?

My response is # 2: Excited, Very Interested.  I have been studying the third edition to take my PMP exam in FEB 2010 with Cornelius Fichtner’s awesome Project Management PrepCast.  I am “nervously excited” to see how much rework I will need to do to catch up for the new version. I hope I don’t have to do what Yoda says and “unlearn what I have learned”!

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An “A-HA Moment” In Project Management

I recently completed a project that solved a problem that no longer exists due to the current economic times.  Many times I look at risks around the project completing on time, schedule, and on budget.  Never have I looked at the risks to the organization if the project is a success.   

Barry Shore, PhD. wrote a few articles  which reinforce my developing belief we need to keep assessing the client need for the product of our project.  The articles are: NO ONE WANTS TO KILL A PROJECT, What We Learn from Case Studies, and Why It’s So Hard to Pull the Plug on a Failing Project.  This last article hit close to home since I am a continuous improvement project manager:

How many times have I heard the mantra of “continuous improvement” not only to keep hope alive for the Red Sox but to keep projects alive? How many times have project managers wanted more time to turn things around? How many times have they asked for more time to give their improvements a chance to show results!

I discovered Dr. Shore from his amazing article for the PMI Member Project Management Journal: Systematic biases and culture in project failures.

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Filed under Business, Communication, Improvements, Learn Leadership, PM Risks, Project Management, Reflection, Waste

Extreme Toyota Book

Hal from Reforming Project Management posted about a book I haven’t seen yet but it sounds fascinating.  It is called EXTREME TOYOTA by Emi Osono, Norihiko Shimizu, and Hirotaka Takeuchi.  I like how Hal lists the six forces that feed the tension at Toyota.  Check it out!

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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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Need help with PMP Exam Formulas?

Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a name you should know if you are a project manager.  He provides a lot of free information to learn and grow.  He also has some great products.  His Five PMP® Exam Formulas Explained presentation is extremely helpful (RSS readers will need to open this post to view).
He has more information like this at PM Study Guide and Free PMP® Exam Questions.
I am currently listening to his PM PREPCAST and find it incredibly helpful since he translates the dry PMBOK into something I can understand (with a great price).  I have been a fan of his free PM Podcast for about two years, and really enjoy his interviews with other PMs.
He recently launched a new site PM Lectures which looks interesting but I haven’t had a chance to sample or purchase anything.  Based on his history of quality and ability to communicate complex ideas simply, I am sure this will be a valuable site.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Five PMP“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post: Andon’s & Project Management

I am excited to have written a gues post on Ron Holohan’s pm411.org blog and podcast.  Please check it out:  How To Avoid “Stopping The Line” On Deliverables”.

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How To Improve Your Public Speaking

Ron Holohan at pm411.org has two great podcasts with typed transcripts for improving your public speaking.  He interviews Joe Friedman from Zehren-Friedman Associates, Ltd and the advice is very easy to remember and follow.

Follow the links for Part 1 and Part 2.

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Visuals Have Punch!

I want to encourage EVERYBODY to read The Back Of The Napkin by Dan Roam.  I finished this book a couple of weeks ago (see my review) and I have been applying it since then.  The results have been tremendous!

I used drawings to show problem & opportunities of a process and the audience showed a greater understanding than I have seen before.  I used them in project planning to determine which tasks will be handled by role and it helped us see the balance of work.  It is becoming second nature to use drawings, but most importantly, I feel like I am communicating in a more effective and clear manner.  One of my goals is to begin scanning my drawings and showing them on this site.

I hope you read this book and put it into practice because it is a great skill for solving problems (project, improvements, sales, ect). 

Please comment if you have read it.  I would love to see what you think of the book as well! 

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The Last Lecture, Football, and Lean

I just finished the great book, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  One of my favorite parts was where he describes his football coach when he was a kid. 

He explains how all of the kids arrived on the field only to find there were no footballs.  The coach asked them how many players are on the field at a time.  Answer = 22 (two teams of 11).  He then asked them how many footballs are on the field at the time.  Answer = 1.  The coach advised the kids he was going to teach them what the other 21 players are doing and not just the ball carrier.

The coach focused on fundamentals.  Lean improvements are built on fundamentals.  Ever have a client want to implement a cell when they don’t even have a reliable method?  Frequent “small plays” of incremental improvements will transform your organization better than always looking for the big glories as the kicker or quarterback! 

Take a moment for some relentless hansei and think where you might have strayed from the fundamentals.

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Lean and Project Management

There is a great article on PMI.ORG from Lawrence Leach, PMP.  He brings a Lean concepts to Project Management.  The two work so well together!

http://www.pmi.org/Pages/Lean_Management.aspx

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