Business 901 Podcast: Two New Deadly Diseases for Business
Posted on February 4, 2013 Comments (1)
I continue to record podcasts as I promote my new book – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability. In this podcast I discuss the 2 new deadly diseases facing companies. The second part of the Business 901 podcast will be posted soon.
Links to more information on items discussed in the podcast: Dr. Deming’s 7 Deadly Diseases + 2
- Excessive Executive Pay (2005)
- Taking What You Don’t Deserve, CEO Style (2011)
- Warren Buffett: “Too often, executive compensation in the U.S. is ridiculously out of line with performance.” (2006)
- Too Much Leverage Killed Mervyns (2009)
- CEOs Plundering Corporate Coffers (2008)
- Massively Unjust Executive Compensation Damages Companies and Investments (2012)
Copyright and Patents
- Patent Gridlock is Blocking Developing Lifesaving Drugs (2008)
- The United States patent system is in need of significant reform (2005)
- Copywrong (2008)
- Software patents are evil (2006)
- Why Copyright Extension is a Very Bad Idea (2009)
I have created a new subreddit for posting links to interesting items about the new deadly diseases for business.
Management Improvement Blog Carnival #186
Posted on February 1, 2013 Comments (1)
The Curious Cat management blog carnival began in 2006 and it is published twice a month. I also publish a collection management improvement articles on the Curious Cat Management Articles site.
- We agree… but only because we don’t understand each other by Jason Yip – “By making our understanding explicit, we can highlight our disagreements and come to a resolution and real agreement.”
- This is a little story about how I learned the right way to manage people (on my first job, age 14) by Woody Zuill – “Lesson Two: Continuous Improvement. Mr. Smith: ‘However, another part of the job is for you to think about what you are doing, and look for better ways to do things. Keep track of your hours, and next Saturday when I pay you for the week I want you to tell me one way to do things better. Look for problems, and think about how we could deal with them.’”
- Here’s what I learned hanging out with Jason Fried by Dan Shipper – “When a lot of people think of marketing or sales they think of tricks that fool people into buying something. But great marketing doesn’t do that. Great marketing comes from understanding exactly what the customer needs on an emotional level, and showing how your product will satisfy those needs.”
- User Gemba by John Hunter – “It isn’t enough to know how you intend that customers will use your products or services; you have to get out to the gemba of actual customer use and learn what problems your customers use your products to solve.”
The Market Discounts Proven Company Leadership Far Too Quickly
Posted on January 28, 2013 Comments (1)
Developing a strong executive leadership culture is not a short term effort. It isn’t based on one person. It almost never deteriorates quickly. Yet markets continually overact to minor blips on the long term success of companies. I think this is mainly due to a failure to appreciate systems and a failure to appreciate variation along with plenty of other contributing factors.
The market’s weakness does provide investment opportunities. Though taking advantages of them is much more difficult than spotting a general weakness. While excellent management almost never becomes pitiful overnight (regardless of how often talking heads would have you believe) business can change very quickly due to rapidly changing market conditions. Avoiding the purchases when the underlying business has sustained a significant blow that excellent management will deal with but which will reduce the value of the enterprise going forward is key to taking advantage of the market’s silly overreaction to bad news (or even calling things “bad news” that are not actually bad just not as awesome as some were hoping for).
My positive opinion of Toyota’s management has continued for a long time. A few years ago an amazing number of people were all excited about the “decline of Toyota” and wrote about how Toyota’s ways had to change. I wrote at the time was this is needless hysteria and if Toyota just focused a bit more on applying the Toyota’s management methods they would be in great shape. The problems were due to Toyota’s mistakes in practicing the Toyota Production System not in a weakness of those practices.
Looking at a chart of Toyota’s stock price from 2007 to today it peaks at about $137 in January 2007 and bottoms at $58 in early 2009 and now is at $96. Toyota’s stock price has been priced richly due to respect for management and consistently strong cash flow. As it fell below $75 there you no longer had to pay a premium for excellent management, but that management was still there. I like getting bargains when I buy stocks. One of the things I have learned I am too focused on bargains and I should be more willing to accept less of a bargain to get great management systems – so I have adjusted, and have improved my results. When I can get a great bargain and great management it is wonderful, though sadly a rare occurrence. Toyota’s price now seems reasonable, but not a huge bargain.
The market continually gets overly excited by either actual problems or perceived problems. I wrote about this happening with Netflix 2 years ago. Netflix made some mistakes and faced some tough business issues. The evidence of sound, sensible, effective management vastly outweighed the evidence for management failure – yet there were hundreds of articles about the pitiful failure of Netflix management.
Leanpub Podcast on My Book – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability
Posted on January 23, 2013 Comments (1)
In the podcast we cover quite a bit of ground quickly, so the details are limited (transcript of the interview). These links provide more details on items I mention in the podcast. They are listed below in the same order as they are raised in the podcast:
- John Hunter’s professional life highlights
- This blog, the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
- The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog – to advance commerce, prosperity and peace
- Posts on appropriate technology on my Curious Cat Engineering blog.
- Respect for people: Practical Ways to Respect People Within an Organization – Create a Workplace That Lets People Take Pride in Their Work – Respect for Everyone – Optimize for Developer Happiness at Etsy
- Executive pay: Massively Unjust Executive Compensation Damages Companies and Investments – CEOs Plundering Corporate Coffers – Too Much Leverage Killed Mervyns – Losses Covered Up to Protect Bonuses – Taking What You Don’t Deserve, CEO Style – More on Obscene CEO Pay – Turning Up the Heat on CEO Pay (Drucker Institute): “Drucker asserted that the proper ratio between a chief executive’s pay and that of the average worker was around 20-to-1. That’s a far cry from the current ratio of more than 260-to-1 found at major U.S. companies.”
- Understanding data: Forgetting the Proxy Nature of Data Leads to Incorrect Conclusions – Managing to Test Result Instead of Customer Value – Seeing Patterns Where None Exists – Confirmation Bias
- What to do? Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization – How to Get a New Management Strategy, Tool or Concept Adopted
- Experimenting: How to Most Effectively Use of the PDSA Improvement Cycle – Encourage Improvement Action by Everyone – Google: Experiment Quickly and Often
The last 15 minutes of the podcast I talk about some details of working with Leanpub; I used Leanpub to publish Management Matters. I recommend Leanpub for other authors. They don’t just have lean in their name, they actual apply lean principles (focusing on the value chain, eliminating complexity, customer focus, etc.) to operating Leanpub. It is extremely easy to get started and publish your book.
Leanpub also offers an excellent royalty plan: authors take home 90% of the revenue minus 50 cents per book. They publish without “digital rights management” crippling purchasers use of the books. Buyers have access to pdf, kindle (mobi) and epub (iPad, nook) format books and get access to all updates to the book. All purchases include a 45 day full money back guaranty.
Posted on January 21, 2013 Comments (0)
Often the improvements that have the largest impact are focused on improving the effectiveness of thought and decision making. Improving the critical thinking in an organization has huge benefits over the long term.
My strategy along the lines of improving critical thinking is not to make that the focus of some new effort. Instead that ability to reason more effectively will be an outcome of things such as: PDSA projects (where people learn that theories must be tested, “solutions” often fail if you bother to look at the results…), understanding variation (using control charts, reading a bit of material on: variation, using data effectively, correlation isn’t causation etc.), using evidenced based management (don’t make decision based on the authority of the person speaking but on the merit that are spoken).
These things often take time. And they support each other. As people start to understand variation the silly discussion of what special causes created the result that is within the expected outcomes for the existing process are eliminated. As people learn what conclusions can, and can’t, be drawn from data the discussions change. The improvements from the process of making decisions is huge.
As people develop a culture of evidence based management if HiPPOs try to push through decision based on authority (based on Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) without supporting evidence those attempts are seen for what they are. This presents a choice where the organization either discourages those starting to practice evidence based decision making (reverting to old school authority based decision making) or the culture strengthens that practice and HiPPO decision making decreases.
Building the critical thinking practices in the organization support the principles and practices of management improvement. The way to build those critical thinking skills is through the use of quality tools and practices with reminders on principles as projects are being done (so until understanding variation is universal, continually pointing out that general principle with the specific data in the current project).
The gains made through the direct application of the tools and practices are wonderful. But the indirect benefit of the improvement in critical thinking is larger.
Related: Dan’t Can’t Lie – Growing the Application of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization – Build Systems That Allow Quick Action – Don’t Just Try and Run Faster – Bad Decisions Flow From Failing to Understand Data and Failing to Measure Results of Changes
Curious Cat 5th Annual Management Blog Review – Part 2 of 2
Posted on January 15, 2013 Comments (0)
The 5th annual Curious Cat Management Blog Review has been completed.
This year, 15 blogs (a record) reviewed a total of 39 management blogs (not a record, in 2010 44 were reviewed).
4 blogs have been reviewed every year: Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog, Evolving Excellence, Gemba Panta Rei (all of which were reviewed by Ron Pereira on Lean Six Sigma Academy in 2008) and Timeback Management which was reviewed by me here on the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog. 2008, and this year, are the years that prevented several others from recording 5 year appearances. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog and Evolving Excellence are the only 2 blogs to have hosted a review every year.
Here are links to the those reviews that have been posted since part 1 (with the number of years each author has participated in the annual review).
Author of blog
|5||John Hunter, Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog||Gemba Walkabout and Not Running a Hospital|
|4||Karen Wilhelm, Lean Reflections||Michel Baudin and Square Peg Musings|
|3||Mark Hamel, Gemba Tales||Shmula|
|2||Nicole Radziwill, Quality and Innovation||Business 901, Design Thinking, Peter Bregman and Stats Made Easy|
|2||Joe Dager, Business 901||Beyond Lean and Knowledge Jolt with Jack|
|1||Scott Rutherford, Square Peg Musings||Lean Pathways, Quality and Innovation and Squawk Point|
|1||Gregg Stocker, Lessons in Lean||Steven Spear|
Follow the management carnival all year with twice monthly highlight of management blog posts.
Management Blog Review 2012: Gemba Walkabout
Posted on January 9, 2013 Comments (0)
This is my second, of two, 2012 management blog review posts. In this post I look back at the last year on Mike Stoecklein’s Gemba Walkabout blog. Mike is the Director of Network Operations at Thedacare Center for Healthcare Value.
- In a very long post, Some thoughts on guiding principles, values & behaviors, he provides a sensibly explanation for one the real difficulties organization have making progress beyond a certain point (project success but failure to succeed in transforming the management system). “I’m not saying this approach (focus on tools, teams, events) is wrong, but I do think it is incomplete. I think we also need to work from right to left – to help people understand the guiding principles, to think about the kinds of systems they want and to use tools to design and redesign those systems. Dr. Shigeo Shingo said, ‘people need to know more than how, they need to know why’.
Most managers view their organization like an org chart, managed vertically. They assume that the organization can be divided into parts and the parts can be managed separately
It’s what they believe, and what they don’t know is that is is wrong – especially for a complex organization.
If their thinking was based on the guiding principles (for instance “think systemically”) they would manage their organization differently. They would see their organization as as set up interdependent components working together toward a common aim.”
- Reflections on My (Brief) Time with Dr. Deming – “The executives thought he was pleased. When they were done with their ‘show’ he thanked them for their time, but he wanted to know what ‘top management’ was doing. He pointed out that they were talking about improvements on the shop floor, which accounted for only about 3 percent of what was important.” When executives start to radical change what they work on the organization is starting to practice what Dr. Deming taught. Mike recorded a podcast with Mark Graban on working with Dr. Deming.
- Standard Work and PDSA – “What I have noticed is that sometimes people insert another wedge (shown as black) in the diagram below. So, progress gets stopped because some seem to believe that standard work doesn’t get adjusted as you make improvement.” This is a brilliant graphic including the text standard work misued. The 2 biggest problem with “standard work” in practice is ignoring the standards and treating them as barriers to improvement. Standard work should be practiced and if that is a problem the standard work guidance should be changed.
During the year stay current with great posts twice a month via the Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival.
Related: Management Blog Review 2012: Not Running a Hospital – 2011 Management Blog Roundup: Stats Made Easy – Standardized Work Instructions – Annual Management Blog Review: Software, Manufacturing and Leadership
Management Blog Review 2012: Not Running a Hospital
Posted on January 3, 2013 Comments (4)
Paul Levy started the Running a Hospital blog when he was the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Thankfully he has continued the blog, renamed to Not Running a Hospital, after leaving that position. Paul provides a huge number (the lowest number of posts in a month was 32) of valuable posts focused on health care, but worthwhile for everyone interested in improving the practice of management.
In addition to his blog, during 2012 Paul published a wonderful book – Goal Play!: Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field. In my first 2012 management blog review I take a look at Not Running a Hospital.
Some of the thoughtful posts by Paul in 2012:
- How to get better at harming people less – “Imagine what we as a society would do if three 727s crashed three days in a row. We would shut down the airports and totally revamp our way of delivering passengers. But, the 100,000 people a year killed in hospitals are essentially ignored, and hospitals remain one of the major public health hazards in our country.”
- Medtronic’s Lean Journey – “They knew they would have to think big, but then sweat the details. Over time they figured out how to collaborate.
There were five stages in the process:
1 — Define our operating standards, who we aspire to be.
2 — Set a global expectation to accelerate improvement.
3 — Develop the ability to assess current state.
4 — Create ongoing mechanisms to learn and leverage to close gaps.
5 — Continually check and adjust.”
- Sarah Patterson informs about Lean – “Would like Va Mason org to operate like an aircraft carrier. How to run a complex business safety.
Aircraft carrier = an airport on top of a nuclear power plant comprising a bunch of 19 year olds!
Aircraft carrier needs complete alignment with the mission. If not done well, puts others at risk.
Aircraft carrier requires an incredible commitment to adoption of standard work. Relentless focus on training.
Create jobs that are doable. Train people to do them. Hold people accountable to them.
Adopted TPS=customer first, highest quality, obsession w/ safety, staff engagement, successful economic enterprise
Senior leader regular gemba rounds to view one aspect of standard work.”
Curious Cat 5th Annual Management Blog Review – Part 1
Posted on December 26, 2012 Comments (3)
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.
|Years||Author of blog||blogs reviewed|
|5||Kevin Meyer, Evolving Excellence||Edit Innovation and TimeBack Management|
|4||Dan Markovitz, TimeBack Management||Evolving Excellence and Brad Power on HBR blog|
|3||Tanmay Vora, QAspire||HR Bartender, Jamie Flinchbaugh and Seth Godin|
|3||Mark Hamel, Gemba Tales||Old Lean Dude|
|2||Tim McMahon, A Lean Journey||Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog, encob blog and Kaizen Notebook|
|2||Matt Wrye, Beyond Lean||Lean Blitz and My Flexible Pencil|
|1||Michel Baudin||Gemba Panta Rei, Lean Edge and Lean Reflections|
|1||Evan Durant, Kaizen Notebook||Gemba Tales and Gotta Go Lean|
|1||Dragan Bosnjak, encob blog||Gemba Coach and The Lean Edge|
|1||Scott Rutherford, Square Peg Musings||Fridge Magnets|
Posted on December 12, 2012 Comments (2)
Customer focus is critical to succeed with management improvement efforts. Few argue with that point, though my experience as a customer provides plenty of examples of poor systems performance on providing customer value (usability, managing the value stream well, etc.).
At times people get into discussion about what counts as a customer. Are customers only those who pay you money for a product or service? What about internal customers? What about users that don’t pay you, but use your product (bought from an intermediary)? What about users that use a service you provide for free (in order to make money in another way, perhaps advertising)? What about “internal customers” those inside your organization without any payment involved in the process?
I find it perfectly fine to think of all these as customers of slightly different flavors. What is important is providing what each needs. Calling those that actually use what you create users is fine, but I think it often just confuses people rather than adding clarity, but if it works in your organization fine.
To me the most important customer focus is on the end users: those that derive value from what your organization provides. If there is confusion between various customer groups it may be helpful to use terms like end user, but really using the term customer for a wide range or customers is fine (and modification such as internal customer to provide some clarity).
Using Incentives to Guide Social System Improvements
Posted on December 5, 2012 Comments (2)
When confronted with the challenge of managing a social system (or market) I like to find ways to use a few simple rules that will guide the system to find improvements. I favor allowing participants in complex social system to determine how to adapt. So I support, for example, a carbon taxes where the market can decide where it is most effective to invest to reduce carbon use (both to reduce our depletion of the resource and to reduce pollution leading to climate change).
I like to try and keep prescription rules as limited as possible and instead set simple rules that will allow people to make choices. These rules will often allow for people to judge when they need to temper the extremes (in management examples) and in economic situations they often can have costs that escalate as the system is strained (so low pricing if the road is currently not heavily used and increasing the cost to users as congestion increases). The more prescriptive the rules the less ability people have to find creative solutions.
Traffic congestion is a perennial problem with high very costs to society. I very much like congestion pricing. You set a rule that puts increasing costs on those creating an overload on the system (which has costly negative externalities). Then allow people to figure out how to adapt.
The video also provides a very good example of why leadership is important. In Stockholm people were against congestion pricing (70% to 30%). This isn’t surprising they see a new tax that only is a cost. They don’t understand that the system performance is going to improve – the cost will provide a benefit. Leadership is required to push forward when the benefits are not obvious to everyone. Once people saw that congestion was greatly decreased 70% supported congestion pricing.
Jonas Eliasson: “Don’t tell people how to adapt. Nudge them. If you do it correctly – they’ll embrace the change”
Related: The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes – Urban Planning in Northern Virginia – Disregard for People by FedEX and UPS – Systems thinking allowed the engineers to design a solution that wasn’t about enforcing the existing rules more but changing the system so that the causes of the most serious problems are eliminated. – Using Outcome Measures for Prison Management
Management Improvement Blog Carnival #183
Posted on December 2, 2012 Comments (0)
The Curious Cat Management Carnival is published twice each month. 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: Deming, innovation, lean manufacturing, customer focus, leadership, six sigma, respect for employees…
- 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.”
How to Accelerate Quality Management Practices
Posted on November 21, 2012 Comments (1)
For world quality month, Paul Borawski selected the topic of accelerating quality for discussion by ASQ’s Influential Voices. He specifically asks: what can we do to accelerate the rate of adoption of quality?
As far as what ASQ can do I have the same thought I have had for 10 years. ASQ can make the articles and reports that members contributed available openly over the internet. ASQ currently greatly restricts the sharing and adoption of quality ideas by placing that content behind paywalls.
I do not support restricting access to material on how to spread the adoption of quality. That is a mistake. It has been a mistake for over a decade and should have been changed long ago. Positive action should be taken to demonstrate the words about promoting the adoption of quality methods are more than just empty words. I have discussed my thoughts on associations and journals failing to adapt to the internet occasionally: ASQ has a long way to go in promoting quality, Science Journal Publishers Stay Stupid, Science Commons: Making Scientific Research Re-useful.
What can quality management professionals do?
I certainly do not believe people should be publishing good quality management content to publishers who hide the content behind paywalls. I would encourage those publishing quality management content to do it in an open manner and not using publications that are closed (paywall, registration wall or any form of a wall restriction the sharing of ideas). Tell the closed publishers you will publish with them once they demonstrate their commitment to open access.
Also continuing to learn and apply the best management ideas are the keys for making a difference. People like Dr. Deming and Dr. Ackoff continued to learn well into their 80s. Their thirst for knowledge and ways to improve drove continually improvement. Following this example will be a great step. And at the same time continue to apply these ideas. There are often lots of challenges to actually getting our organizations to improve. What is needed is more leaders to push for continual improvement.
Organizations often have lots of innertia behind outdated practices. Encouraging the adoption of quality management practices often requires a great deal of effort to get the defenders of the status quo to allow improvement to take place. It takes a great deal of perseverance. The biggest barrier to improvement is innertia.
Management Improvement Blog Carnival #182
Posted on November 18, 2012 Comments (1)
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.”
Business 901 Podcast with Me: Deming’s Management Ideas Today
Posted on November 13, 2012 Comments (5)
I recently was interviewed for a podcast by Joe Dager, at Business 901: Dr. Deming on Lean in 2012. I hope you enjoy the podcast.
Here are some links related to items I mention in the podcast:
- The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog
- William Hunter, my father. Link to paper with Easaw Chacko on Building a Quality Movement within a developing nation, 1972. Developing Children’s Numeracy Using Dice
- Statistics for Experimenters by George Box, Bill Hunter and Stu Hunter.
- City of Madison applying Deming’s management ideas:
- pages 245-247 of Out of the Crisis
- Quality Comes to City Hall by Joseph Sensenbrenner
- Peter Scholtes, author of The Leader’s Handbook
- Doing More with Less in the Public Sector by Bill Hunter, Jan O’Neill and Carol Wallen
- Shoichiro Toyoda, Honorary Chairman and director of Toyota: “There is not a day I don’t think about what Dr. Deming meant to us. Deming is the core of our management.”
- Deming Prize, awarded by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers
- Video of Dr. W. Edwards Deming: Deadly Diseases of Western Management
Some blog posts that expand on some points I made in the podcast:
- Dr. Deming’s personal aim was to advance commerce, prosperity and peace
- Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge
- New Deadly Diseases
- Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System, Why Use Lean if So Many Fail To Do So Effectively
- Toyota Targets 50% Reduction in Maintenance Waste
- Practical Ways to Demonstrate Respect for People
Respect for Everyone
Posted on November 7, 2012 Comments (5)
TL;DR – The two pillars of the Toyota Way are: respect for people and continuous improvement.
One of the big reasons my career followed the path it did (into management improvement) was due to the impact of respect for people. My father was a professor (in statistics, engineering and business) and consulted with organizations to help them achieve better results. To achieve results he took advantage of the gains possible when using statistical tools to manage with respect for people.
Managing Our Way to Economic Success: Two Untapped Resources, 1986: “American organizations could compete much better at home and abroad if they would learn to tap the potential information inherent in all processes and the creativity inherent in all employees.”
After he died, for years, people would talk to me about the difference he made in their lives (at conferences mainly). Other than those with PhD’s in statistics (of which there were many, but a very small number compared to all the others) the thing that made a difference was respect for people. Those who chose to talk to me are obviously a self selected group. But of those, the people that made the largest impact on me basically said he talked to me as though everything I said mattered. He didn’t talk down to me. He helped me see how I could help improve: the organization and my own skills and abilities.
This didn’t happen 5 times or 10 times of 20 times, it happened many more times than that. Year after year of this helped push me to stick with management improvement. These served as a great incentive to perserve as I ran into the typical difficulties actually improving management systems.
The senior executives he talked to were not very impressed that he spoke to them with respect. So none mentioned that with awe, but a few did notice that he was able to connect with everyone – the senior executives, nurses, people on the factory floor, secretaries, salespeople, front line staff, engineers, janitors, middle managers, doctors, union leaders. The senior executives were more likely to be impressed by the success and his technical ability and knowledge as well as communication skill. Doctors, statisticians and engineers were more impressed with knowledge, technical skill, skill as a teacher and advice.
Management Improvement Blog Carnival #181
Posted on November 1, 2012 Comments (1)
The Curious Cat management blog carnival is published twice a month: with hand picked recent management blog posts. I also publish a collection management improvement articles on the Curious Cat Management Articles site.
- 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.”
- Series of posts on Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge by John Hunter: Theory of Knowledge, Psychology (Managing Human Systems), Knowledge of Variation and Appreciation for a System.
- 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. “
Going Beyond Quality Makes No Sense – There is No Border to Move Beyond
Posted on October 24, 2012 Comments (1)
I don’t pay much attention to the tradition role for quality. Dr. Deming’s ideas, for well over half a century, have emphasized the importance of improving the entire management system and the entire enterprise. That systems view is the way I think and act.
When a quality office exists that office has a role to play within the system. So, the quality department might be responsible for things like helping keeping track of internal process measures (control charts etc.), responding to whatever some executive decides to focus on (they don’t like the rate of warranty expenses, or bugs in the software, or something), etc.
I have no problem with a quality department providing expertise on process management, helping people use quality tools, providing guidance on modern management methods etc. But limiting a quality department to whatever is considered traditional quality (maybe reducing defects, quality assurance, and the like) is an idea that is over half a century out of date, in my opinion. I was part of a quality office at the Office of Secretary of Defense Quality Management Office. The role of such offices is to support and increase the speed of adoption of better management practices to improve results.
Process Thinking: Process Email Addresses
Posted on October 18, 2012 Comments (1)
This is just a simple tip. When providing email address think about what the purpose is. If it is to contact a specific person then an individual’s email address makes sense. But if you are really emailing the software testing manager then it may well make sense to provide people the email address software_testing_manager@
Essentially, I think it is often sensible to break out email addresses for specific functions or processes. Then the email address can just be routed to whoever is suppose to handle those emails. And as your responsibilities shift a bit, those you no longer do can be shifted to someone else and you start getting your new emails. Another nice (I think so anyway) side affect is your various roles are made more concrete. Often it seems who really is responsible is unclear, if you have 5 email address that Jane handled before she left it will be obvious if only 4 of them have been reassigned that 1 has not. Granted such a thing should be obvious without this email tip-off but given how many organizations really operate failing to assign all of someone’s responsibilities to someone when they leave is more common than you would hope.
It is also nice because, if their is a reason it is helpful, those emails can automatically go to as many people as desired. Also if the manager goes on vacation for 2 weeks, the emails can be sent also to the person filling in for them until they return.
Another benefit is a manager, or whoever, can take a quick dip into the email traffic to get a sense of what is being requested. Another benefit (depending on the way it is implemented) can be to have all the software_testing_manager@ emails and responses associated with that email so if you are given that responsibility you can view historical response.
If our knowledge management (wikis, or whatever) solutions were great this would be less important (though still probably valuable) but often the email history may have the best record of our organization knowledge on a topic. When it is spread about in a bunch of individuals mail boxes it is often essentially lost.
It is a small think but this bit of process thinking I have found helpful.
Management Improvement Blog Carnival #180
Posted on October 15, 2012 Comments (1)
The Curious Cat Management Carnival is published twice each month. 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: Deming, lean manufacturing, customer focus, six sigma, systems thinking, respect for employees…
- 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.”