This is the 5th year in which multiple management blogs have participated in reviewing the year in management blogging. Once again we have many great blogs reviewed. Each year a few blog authors stop, or nearly stop publishing, but each year more great new management blogs start.
Here are links to the reviews that have been posted so far with the number of years each author has participated in the annual review.
Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by John Hunter.
How would you explain what Lean is to a 7-year-old? by Ron Pereira – “Daddy tries to teach people how to work faster and make less mistakes. And, most importantly, we also try to teach people to be nice and respect each other… that way everyone can do their very best.”
We must think of the whole enterprise as a continually evolving system by Jeff Liker – “Customer care call center–This is housed in the same building as Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance California and the call centers function like the work groups in Toyota plants to the extend of even holding weekly quality circle meetings and having a team leader and group leader structure as well as visual metrics with targets for improvement.”
The maker/manager transition phase – “One of the hardest things as a developer transitioning into a manager role has been to get a feeling of progress without writing code. Progress is usually clear with code, and harder with manager activities… As a founder you’re in the best position to guide people and help them be super productive. That becomes your role.”
How do mid-level managers convince the CEO that adopting lean practices is worthwhile? by Michael Ballé – “You can’t convince your boss to do lean, but you can become more convincing yourself by doing lean rather than talking about it. Few consultants ever get lean because they’re always thinking about getting others to apply it, but not them. As a result, their own learning curve stagnates. Don’t fall into that trap. Lean yourself before you try to lean others.”
The Curious Cat Management Blog Carnival has been published since 2006. The carnival, published twice a month, links to great, recent, management blog posts. I hope you find these post interesting and find some new blogs to start reading. Follow me online: Google+, Twitter and elsewhere.
How to Build it: Lean Prototyping Techniques for Hardware – “Good user feedback is essential, and this feedback should guide making the next round of prototypes. It is an iterative cycle. The key to making good products is making mistakes early and learning from them. This is best done through prototyping and getting user feedback.”
3 Reasons Why Layoffs Don’t Benefit Hospitals in the Long Run by Bob Herman – “Dr. Gruner says ThedaCare has had a “no layoff” philosophy and commitment to Lean techniques, similar to Scripps, since 2003. He agrees with Mr. Van Gorder, saying layoffs are only a patchwork strategy with immediate financial gains and long-term financial and cultural losses. However, focusing on the retention of employees without layoffs is actually the simpler strategy — it just requires an undying commitment and focus.”
The Greatest Waste by John Hunter – “The sentiment of failing to use the ability of people is not that uncommon. But putting the thought and effort behind changing that failure is. Dr. Deming consistently re-inforced the creation of a management system that sought to take advantage of the ability of people.”
Coach Says: What Do You Think? by John Shook – “Your challenge will be to find a way to reconcile the apparent contradiction. You need to reconcile them not to satisfy the sensei (absolutely not for that reason) but to deepen your own learning. Presume that there is some truth in what both sensei are telling you. You need to determine just what that truth is and how you can make sense of it in this specific situation.”
Retail Values for Lean Leadership by Jon Miller – “A successful lean leader must also have this retail mindset – a keen sense of customer intimacy and always being in the moment of truth to delivery a quality product or service… Yet the customer experience aspect is perhaps one of the least developed areas within lean thinking.”
Don’t Let Lean Myths Stand In Your Way by Tim McMahon – “leaders have to learn to think differently and see their customers and business differently, that’s people development, not tools development.”
Preparing for the Natural Tendency to Backslide by Gregg Stocker – “There is nothing more critical to success in a lean transformation than learning. Keep in mind, however, that people can only learn when and what they’re able to at any given time. By continuing to emphasize the need to understand cause and effect – or the reasons why results are what they are – you will greatly increase the chances that the organization will develop a learning environment. “
Dr. Deming on Innovation by John Hunter – “What you need to do is know your customers (and potential customers) and business so well that you can innovate to meet their unmet needs (even when those potential customers can’t give voice to what they would like to see).”
Just Observing, Sir. by Kevin Meyer – “When you rush around focused on firefighting and fixing things, you miss the nuance of the process.
Take some time to ‘just’ observe. Better yet, make it part of the ongoing routine of you and your staff.”
The most destructive misunderstanding in today’s work life by Sami Honkonen – “Thinking that high utilization leads to good results is the most destructive misunderstanding still prevalent in work life. This misunderstanding is based on the false assumption that working hard is always the best way to get results… We should focus on results, not utilization.”
Do We Know How to Learn? by Gregg Stocker – “The power of PDSA thinking lies in the realization that every decision is, in effect, a prediction that a specific outcome will occur. If one consciously adopts this mindset and practices it to the point where it becomes natural, significant learning can occur.”
Lean Versus Historical TPS by Art Smalley – “identify what are your impediments to improvement and work on those. In particular as what are barriers to higher equipment uptime, higher process capability, safer equipment, higher capital and labor productivity without adding cost, more highly trained personnel, and you will be on the right track. I call this building better process stability and it is an essential yet often ignored element of the historical Toyota Production System.”
Adaptability vs Evolutionary Change by David J. Anderson – “Organizations with evolutionary capability have resilience – they remain relevant despite changing circumstances and maintain high levels of effectiveness as the environment around them changes. Kanban is a means to install evolutionary capability and deliver on higher level agility. Evolutionary capability defines second generation Agile methods.”
Completion: Limiting WIP Post II by Jim Benson – “When we limit work-in-progress, we not only limit the number of projects we are working on, but also the number of tasks. This helps us complete tasks efficiently and effectively. When we are done, we understand what we did. While we are doing the tasks we are fully aware of how long they are taking.”
Disruptive Management by Bill Waddell – “The professional management experts break the fundamental rule of lean – they miss Dr Deming’s essential point. Failure is ascribed to personal failing, rather than flawed processes.”
Amazon’s Play by John Gruber – “What he’s [Bezos] done that is Jobs-like is doggedly pursue, year after year, iteration after iteration, a vision unlike that of any other company — all in the name of making customers happy.”
The absurdity of the 40 hour workweek by Dan Markovitz – “Even if you’re not a plumber or a lawyer, there’s a tendency to focus on the amount of time you spend on a project and what the output is.”
Metrics in Lean – Deming versus Drucker by Michel Baudin – Deming “thought MBO was a bad idea and he would not pussyfoot. 15 years later, Drucker himself came around to the same point of view and recognized that MBO had failed.” [also many comments on the post are interesting – John]
I am returning to publishing the Curious Cat management carnival twice a month; from the schedule of three times a month that has been the case recently. The posts selected for the carnival focus on the areas of management improvement I have focused on in the Curious Cat Management Improvement Guide since 1996.
Why You Must Stop Putting Out Fires: the Urgent Disrupts; the Important Erupts – “Firefighting, sadly, is a lot easier than fire preventing. It takes comparatively little thought. You just get into “action mode” and can be really busy. Busy resembles productive. And you feel like a hero. But, when you really stop to ponder the matter, wouldn’t it be better if you allowed the important, planful, preventive work to erupt from the constraints you’ve placed on it so those fires never occurred?”
via, Innovation is Nothing but ECRS by Jon Miller – “The letters ECRS stand for a work analysis and redesign method originating in industrial engineering and commonly used as part of kaizen. The work is observed and the observer looks for opportunities to improve by taking steps to eliminate, combine, rearrange or simplify each step.”
One set of posts that caught my eye was on Agile Fluency. The original post by James Shore and Diana Larsen proposes “a model of Agile fluency that will help you achieve Agile’s benefits. Fluency evolves through four distinct stages, each with its own benefits, costs of adoption, and key metrics”. Dave Nicolette responded that “the gist of the article appears to be that we can effect organizational improvement in a large company by driving change from the level of individual software development teams…
Reflections on My (Brief) Time with Dr. Deming by Mike Stoecklein – “He was harsh and stern with senior management at the seminars – wanting to shake them into the realization of what their jobs were and that they were not currently doing it. He was sparing with the use of the word ‘leader’. However, he was always very kind and patient one-on-one.”
Beyond the Kanban Board: An Executive’s Work Visualization by Simon Marcus – “My goals in this approach include minimizing the likelihood that I will be a bottleneck, allowing great ideas to surface from wherever they surface and feeling comfortable with a lot of things happening around me because I know our teams know how to execute.”
Ford Gets It – Do You? by Bill Waddell – “The heart and soul of Toyota’s success was SMED – flexibility – the ability to make lots of things in one factory without losing too much capacity in the process.”
What to look for on a gemba walk? by Michel Baudin – “Following the flow. Pretending you are a work piece and following the process backwards from the end to the beginning, noting where and how many times it waits for transportation or processing, how operators perceive upstream and downstream colleagues, the tools, fixtures and storage devices used at each operation.”
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.