posts relating to the management improvement carnival. Carnivals are blog posts that serve to provide links to posts on a number of blogs on a related topic. Our carnival covers management improvement: Deming, lean manufacturing, six sigma, innovation, customer focus, leadership, systems thinking, continuous improvement, respect for people... Suggest a post to be included in the next carnival.
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What we can learn from Russell L. Ackoff by Aleksis Tulonen – “If you want to (dis)solve the problem you need to understand how (dis)solving the problem will affect the system and what the problem really is. Gathering the mental constructs of several people with different mindsets will gain you more understanding of what you are dealing with.”
Why smart managers do stupid things by John Stepper – “What You See Is All There Is. Over and over, he demonstrates how people systematically disregard basic probability and other facts in order to (quickly and easily) make up a story that fits with the things they see.”
Downtime Antipatterns for SaaS owners, ZipCar edition – “Use an automated system to point DNS entries to a ‘sorry, we’re down, please see http://status.zipcar.com’ page running on a commodity VPS in a completely different datacenter. Provide useful information to the customer RIGHT AWAY, and don’t leave them wondering why the page isn’t loading.”
Espoused Vs. In-Use by Anthony DaSilva – “From over 10,000 empirical cases collected over decades of study, Mr. Argyris has discovered that most people (at all levels in an org) espouse Model II guidance while their daily theory in-use is driven by Model I.”
Software Inventory by Joel Spolsky – “Trello works great for a reasonable amount of inventory, but it intentionally starts to get klunky if you have too many cards in one list. And that’s exactly the point: it makes inventory visible so that you know when it’s starting to pile up.” (I use Trello, and like it, at Hexawise where I am a consultant – John)
You don’t “do Lean” by Paul Levy – “Lean is not a program. It is a long-term philosophy of corporate leadership and organization that is based, above all, on respect shown to front-line staff.”
Queueing Theory at Chipotle by Evan Durant – “I like Chipotle for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they have hands-down the greatest food service process in the industry. I could talk about standard work, flow, material replenishment, customer focus, and a whole bunch of other lean stuff”
Waves at Old Lean Dude: Bruce Hamilton (a.k.a. the Toast Guy) writes about surges in production and work load that are self-inflicted. One of the 14 Toyota Way principles is to level-out the work load. Waves of work or production is not Lean or effective.
Error Proofing at Beyond Lean: Matt Wrye often sees Lean applications in the real world and not just in the manufacturing plant. He brings these examples to his blog illustrating how to be Lean. He was having fun with charts in a recent post.
Why do you ask? at Gemba Tales: Mark Hamel compares the Leader as a Fixer to the Leader as a Teacher. Mark’s blog demonstrates the difference well and provides the kind of questions teachers should be asking.
How I hire writers by Hitesh Sarda – “We spend a quick 10-15 min assessing if the candidate deserves our time and next interview round or not. My favourite questions include: spelling of conscientious, explain oxford comma… Once I am convinced of their hold on words, we move to round 3… Here we take a deep dive into the writers command over the intricacy of the language. Sample questions: Question on lexical roots of some words. More spellings and grammar questions….”
Without work standards there can be no kaizens by Tracey Richardson – “When was at Toyota those actions were things like – Go See, Respect for people, Continuous Improvement, Teamwork, and Challenge, these were values that could be translated into an action a leader could show from top management down to a team member level, this creates the consistency for the values and principles to become the belief system for the organization that its more than just words on the wall in the lobby.”
Innovation at Bell Labs by Michael McKinney – “Humans all suffered from a terrible habit of shoving new ideas into old paradigms. ‘Everyone faces the future with their eyes firmly on the past and they don’t see what’s going to happen next,’ observed John Pierce.”
Standardized Confusion by Art Smalley – “Changing of a work standard was done very infrequently and normally an engineering activity for the types of items I just described. Maybe we wanted to improve the life of a tool, or alter how the part was clamped in response to a problem on the shop floor, etc. Problems or kaizen sometimes drove us to reconsider work standards but by and large these did not and should not change very often if we planned and launched the process correctly.”
Deming’s Speech at Mount Hakone, Japan (1950) – “The first step, therefore, belongs with management. First, your company technicians and your factories must know that you have a fervor for advancing product quality and uniformity and a sense of responsibility for product quality.
Nothing will come of this if you only speak about it. Action is important…
At first do it on a small scale, and once you think that has value, then expand.”
How we reduced our cancellation rate by 87.5% by Kareem Mayan – “Since implementing changes 1-3 two months ago, we’ve seen our cancellation rate drop from 40% to 5% – an 87.5% decrease. We’re going to run another cohort analysis in a couple months to isolate the impact of each change as it’s still too early to know the long-term impact of these changes”
Design of Experiments: “Fractionating” and “Folding” a DOE by Bruno Scibilia – “In science and in business, we need to perform experiments to identify the factors that have a significant effect. The objective of DOE is to reduce experimental costs—the number of tests—as much as possible while studying as many factors as possible to identify the important ones.”
How Kanban visualisations and conversations enable process improvement by Benjamin Mitchell – “Reviewing the board at the daily stand up meeting provided visual feedback that lead to productive conversations about what might be stopping us and how we could improve. After we implemented new behaviours the board highlighted whether we improved and allowed us to continue to monitor our behaviour.”
Why Cheap Customers Cost More by Sacha Greif – “So it’s not that cheap people require more support. It’s that people who require more support are more likely to make their decision based on price alone.”
Would you like to improve your organization’s relationship with your physicians? “It’s about all those things that motivate people that don’t have anything to do with money – the intrinsic motivators. Everybody wants to feel like they’re part of something that matters, something bigger than themselves. And with our mission of transforming health care and putting patients at the top – that’s huge.”
As noted in the last Carnival, several bloggers including yours truly took an appropriately harsh look at an article in Harvard Business Review titled It’s Time to Rethink Continuous Improvement. One of the best responses was by Jon Miller of Gemba Panta Rei with a post titled How is PDCA Inimical to Innovation?
Jamie Flinchbaugh has a thought-provoking post asking Are You Working on the Right Problems? Probably not, especially if you’re a manager. “The manager’s problems are why those problems exist. The manager’s problems are why we can’t solve those problems faster.”
How to do Hansei by Jon Miller – “There is a fundamental cultural difference between cultures, regions and within organization when it comes to facing up to faults and failures, accepting responsibility, and learning. The capacity to reflect may be what separate homo sapiens from animals, successful organizations from those less so.”
Toyota Way Principle #3: “Pull” Systems by Chad Walters – “The purpose of the pull system (also called “kanban” system) is to have a measured queue of materials (raw materials, work-in-process, components, whatever) ready to be ‘pulled’ by the next process step. After the materials are ‘pulled’ a signal is sent to the preceding process step to replace what was taken.”
Blaming Deming, Lean, and Six Sigma and the Importance of “Why?” by Kevin Meyer – However both lean and six sigma are phenomenally powerful – if used properly. And at the core of using them properly is to first ask “why?” What is the problem or opportunity, why is it important, what is the desired future state, and what is the most appropriate tool to leverage?… Not asking that simple question is the difference between companies that successfully leverage Deming’s methods, lean, and six sigma…
Lean Snake Oil Cures What Ails Ya – Mike Wroblewski takes some creative license to explain Lean and it benefits but warns against secrets to implementation as Lean takes hard work and personal commitment.
Matt May is hosting the 165th Management Improvement Carnival. He takes a look at the wonderful manifestos posted at ChangeThis. ChangeThis really is wonderful, if you haven’t already been looking at what they offer you are in for a treat (and have quite a bit to keep you busy for awhile). Highlights from this management carnival edition include:
How Habits Work (and How They Change) by Charles Duhigg. His point: “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. Countless people, from Aristotle to Oprah, have tried to understand why habits exist…”
Changing the Way We Change by Eric Haseltine. He writes: “As a senior executive in fields as diverse as Aerospace, Entertainment and Intelligence, I’ve learned a hard lesson about people and organizations everywhere: they seldom learn from previous failures. To make matters worse, most people not only repeat past mistakes, but fail to learn that they’ve failed to learn from the past so they go on making the same mistakes over and over again.”
Grow by Jim Stengel. This manifesto is based on his book Grow. “It’s time to change the narrative of business,” Jim writes. “From a winner-take-all tale, no-holds-barred, no matter what the cost to individual firms, investors, the economy, and society, to doing business on the basis of what I call brand ideals, shared ideals of improving people’s lives. Maximum business growth and high ideals are not incompatible. They’re inseparable.”
In addition to great ideas the ChangeThis manifestos actually look great. Sadly so much of what you find is distracting to read due to the presentation. ChangeThis puts you in the mood to enjoy the manifesto as soon as you see it.
Stress Solutions, Not Blame by Kevin Meyer – “My organization often hears me say that 90% of problems are the result of poor processes, not people, and 9%… are probably due to poor leadership.”
The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – “Caring deeply about what customers want is much different from continually asking them what they want; it requires intuition and instinct about desires that have not yet formed.”
Kanban and Lean Startup: Making the Most of Both by Alexei Zheglov – “Kanban is an important process-improvement tool for technology organizations. Lean startup is a new approach to discovering new, innovative ways to do business. To get the most from both, it is important to understand how they relate to each other.”
Is Agile too inefficient for start-ups? by Jason Yip – “You Ain’t Gonna Need It was about creating a culture of simplicity (you must justify building more than you need to), which tends to preserve cash, versus a culture of anticipation (you must justify why you’re not building something that handles every imaginable scenario), which tends to burn cash as if it magically falls from the heavens.”
A Lean Leader strengthens the business by developing people through coaching process improvement at the gemba by Jeff Liker – “Thinking of a leader as a teacher and coach, as managing from the gemba, believing deeply that people are the only appreciating assets of the company, believing in the value of intentionally creating a common culture and being a role model of that culture, and that the adaptiveness of the business to meet the challenges of the environment comes from how people are developed all the way down to the worker is quite different than the leader as the captain of the ship steering it cleverly through brilliant personal insights.”
Inspiration Stimulates Productivity and Engagement by Nicole Radziwill – “I’d also like to propose that engagement is a symptom – a consequence of feeling good and having a high quality consciousness! Let’s work on the root causes, and focus less on the symptoms.”
Kanban Networks Exerciseby Yuval Yeret – “The exercise brought to life the complexity of the organization’s network but highlighted how a Kanban system can simplify its operation as well as drive towards improvement. There were several A-Ha moments of understanding how Limited WIP would solve systemic problems currently haunting the organization.”
For complex systems there is no root cause by John Allspaw – “We like to simplify complex problems so we can work on them in a reductionist fashion. We want there to be a single root cause for an accident or an outage, because if we can identify that, we’ve identified the bug that we need to fix.”
Get Ready to Fall Off the Cliff by Ron Ashkenas – “Managers of successful firms tend to become complacent and even arrogant, assuming that past performance will continue and that the formulas that worked previously will work in the future.”
Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’ by John Gruber – “Apple is an experience company. That they create both hardware and software is part of creating the entire product experience… [Jobs:] ‘That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’”
Use heijunka, don’t reduce takt time by Michel Baudin – “Keeping your work force intact and prepared for the next upturn is just as essential. So you stop using temps, cut all overtime, go on four-day weeks, or three-day weeks, and use the available time to solve nagging engineering problems,
experiment with new technology, etc.”
Maximize Test Coverage Efficiency And Minimize the Number of Tests Needed by John Hunter – “The steeper the slope the more efficient your test plan is. If you repeat the same tests of pairs and triples and… while not taking advantage of the chance to test, untested pairs and triples you will have to create and run far more test than if you intelligently create a test plan.”
Toyota University Lean Video – This video shows one of the lean training simulations developed by the experts at Toyota. As you can see, the game uses toy car manufacturing (what a surprise!) to illustrate pull production.
The Apple Voice by Zach Holman – “Mechanically, The Apple Voice is characterized by short, declarative sentences that are informally and personally delivered to you with a hint of smugness.
Our most amazing iPhone yet. 10,000 songs in your pocket. We think you’ll like it.
Less Process, More Discipline by Charlie Martin – “Without it, you lose everything agile methods promise. The key to agile methods is this: You may have less process, but you must have more discipline.”
Evaluating Executive Performance by Art Smalley – “One interesting thing that I will note that was considered in Toyota in Japan by the HR department when evaluating executives was how their previous departments fared after they had left. If the department continued to improve then this was generally a good sign.”
The evolution of design to amplify flow by John Hagel – “If we want to remain successful and reap the enormous rewards that can be generated from flows, we must continually seek to refine the designs of the systems that we spend time in to ensure that they are ever more effective in sustaining and amplifying flows.”
We Don’t Know quote by David York, via Mike Wroblewski-
We don’t know what the problems are…..that’s why we make them visible.
We don’t know what the root causes of the problems are….that’s why we ask 5 Whys?
We don’t know what the evidence is….that’s why we collect data.
We don’t know what is actually happening….that’s why we observe.
We don’t know what solutions will succeed….that’s why we experiment.
Why do we pay sales commissions? by Dan Ostlund, Fog Creek Software – “For us, it’s been a great success, and at least from that perspective it might be time we punch the Theory X, commissions-based sales culture right in the nose. Real redemption might lie in removing the source of the derangement and treating sales people like we treat programmers and other workers that we implicitly trust.”
The C-Suite Double Standard by Dan Markovitz – “I started noticing what I call the C-suite double standard: leaders and executives who are ferocious about improving manufacturing processes and eliminating waste, but who passively accept waste in their office operations and individual work.”
Standard Work Is Like Food – Taste before Seasoning by Mark Hamel – “No doubt, we have heard the Taichii Ohno quote, “Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen.” Standard work implies that there must be adherence. Without it, it’s more like a standard wish…as fickle as the wind. We can’t sustain improvements and we have little foundation for the next.”
Defying Time: Dr. W. Edwards Deming by John Persico – “the more difficult part of our consulting at PMI was not in teaching statistics or process analysis but in helping to change management attitudes from the old thinking of meeting goals and quotas to the new thinking that went beyond goals and quotas to never ending improvement and innovation.”