Management Improvement Carnival #199

Posted on September 1, 2013  Comments (1)

The Curious Cat management blog carnival has been published since 2006. New posts are published once or twice a month. I also publish a collection management improvement articles on the Curious Cat management improvement articles site.

photo of rice field with palm trees in the background, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Rice field outside Ubud, Bali, Indonesia by John Hunter. See more of my photos from Indonesia.

  • Engagement Leads to Results by Bill Waddell – “companies with high levels of worker engagement get better results – profitability, defect rates, growth, productivity…”
  • Flying Delta; Lessons in Unreliability by Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi – “It also means designing procedures and building capabilities for fixing failures when they are identified or stopping the harm caused by failures when they are not detected and intercepted. In the experience of clients, the two organizations displayed very little of these; not predictive, not proactive and hardly anticipatory of client needs, but rather touting 50 dollar vouchers as if they would make all the difference!”
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Stu Hunter Discussing Bill Hunter, Statistics for Experimenters and EVOP

Posted on August 27, 2013  Comments (1)

In this clip, Stu Hunter talks about Bill Hunter (my father, and no relation to Stu Hunter), Statistics for Experimenters and EVolutionary OPerations (EVOP).

Stu mentions Bill Hunter’s work with the City of Madison, which started with the First Street Garage (Out of the Crisis included a short write up on this effort by Dad, which, I believe, was the first application of Deming’s ideas in the public sector).

There was also a great deal of work done with the Police department, as the police chief, David Couper, saw great value in Deming’s ideas. The Police department did some great work and David’s blog shares wonderful ideas on improving policing. I don’t think Dad was that directly involved in what happened there, but it is one of the nice benefits of seeding new ideas: as they take root and grow wonderful things happen without any effort on your part.

As to why Dad got involved with the city, he returned from a summer teaching design of experiments and quality improvement methods in China (this is just before China was really open, a few outsiders were let in to teach). We had also lived overseas several other times, always returning to Madison. He decided he wanted to contribute to the city he loved, Madison, and so he talked to the Mayor about helping improve performance of the city.

The mayor listened and they started with a pilot project which Dad work on with Peter Scholtes. Dad talked to Peter, who he had know for years, and who worked for the city, before talking to the mayor. Read more about the efforts in Madison via the links at the end of this post.

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You are a Fool if You Do What I Say

Posted on August 21, 2013  Comments (3)

Guest post from Mark Graban

There’s an interesting quote from Taiichi Ohno in “Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management,” which I was re-reading today…

“You are a fool if you do what I say. You are a greater fool if you don’t do as I say. You should think for yourself and come up with better ideas than mine.”

The best examples of Lean in healthcare are examples where leaders and organizations learned, but did not blindly copy. Sami Bahri DDS (the “lean dentist”) read Deming, Shingo, Ohno, etc. and had to figure this out himself, rather than copying some other dentist.

ThedaCare is the first to say “don’t directly copy what we do.”

We can learn from others, run our own experiments to see what works, and keep improving to make it better than even Ohno or Shingo would have imagined.

Related: Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativityRespect People by Creating a Climate for Joy in Work

Management Improvement Carnival #198

Posted on August 2, 2013  Comments (1)

The Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival has been published since 2006. The carnival, has been published twice a month – but will now be published once or twice a month depending on how things work out. I hope you find the post included in this edition interesting and find some new blogs to add to your blog/RSS reader. Follow John Hunter online: Google+, Twitter and elsewhere.

  • Observations From A Tipless Restaurant by Jay Porter – “Our ability to make sure team members in all parts of the house were taken care of, and to remove tip-related squabbling from our business, gave us a huge competitive advantage in the marketplace; this in turn allowed us to serve a much higher quality of food and take lower margins on it.”
  • An open letter to Jeff Bezos: A contract worker’s take on Amazon.com by Steve Barker – “As experienced temps left and new ones rolled in, the breakdown began. Temps who had not paid attention in training were now training new temps. Different temps were teaching different techniques and it wasn’t long before the quality of work suffered. As witness to the poor quality, I made a few attempts to express my concerns, but none of my suggestions were implemented. When one of the higher-ups checked our work and realized that mistakes were being overlooked, performance scorecards were implemented.”
  • Change has to Start from the Top – webcast, included here, with David Langford: “You are the top of your system. Change your thinking, change your process – you change your system. As soon as you start to modify your system you are going to have an effect on the larger system: the way you organize, the way you manage what you do everyday, how you process the work that you are doing [will impact the larger system].”
  • No filter: the meanest thing Paul Graham said to a startup – “the vast majority of teams have the opposite problem: people filter their thoughts too much. The psychological and social incentives to do so are quite strong: we don’t want to go against the team, or we’re worried about giving offense, or we don’t want to be ‘the bad guy’… And that has a corrosive effect on culture.” [I agree - "I wish more people objected to bad ideas instead of just letting them go because they were afraid of being seen as negative." - John]
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Design of Experiments: The Process of Discovery is Iterative

Posted on July 30, 2013  Comments (1)

This video is another excerpt on the design of experiments videos by George Box, see previous posts: Introduction to Fractional Factorial Designed Experiments and The Art of Discovery. This video looks at learning about experimental design using paper helicopters (the paper linked there may be of interest to you also).

In this example a screening experiment was done first to find those factors that have the largest impact on results. Once the most important factors are determined more care can be put into studying those factors in greater detail.

The video was posted by Wiley (with the permission of George’s family), Wiley is the publisher of George’s recent autobiography, An Accidental Statistician, and many of his other books.

The importance of keeping the scope (in dollars and time) of initial experiments down was emphasized in the video.

George Box: “Always remember the process of discovery is iterative. The results of each stage of investigation generating new questions to answered during the next.”

Soren Bisgaard and Conrad Fung also appear in this except of the video.

The end of the video includes several suggested resources including: Statistics for Experimenters, Out of the Crisis and The Scientific Context of Quality Improvement.

Related: Introductory Videos on Using Design of Experiments to Improve Results (with Stu Hunter)Why Use Designed Factorial Experiments?brainstormingWhat Can You Find Out From 8 and 16 Experimental Runs?

Your Online Presence and Social Networks for Managers

Posted on July 17, 2013  Comments (1)

This month Paul Borawski asked ASQ’s Influential Voices which social networks do quality professionals use?

TL;DR My bottom line suggestion is to first start with blogs (get a feed reader and subscribe, read and comment on blogs). Next join Reddit and subscribe to the sub-reddits you are interested in, and participate. Next start your own blog. Then join Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+. Put your learning first; other measures are largely “fools gold” (such as number of followers).

photo of John Hunter at Zion National Park

John Hunter at Zion National Park, Utah, USA.

Blogs are the best way to use the internet to learn, network, share and grow. That includes reading blogs, commenting on blogs and writing your own blog. Thankfully there are tons of great management improvement blogs (especially on lean thinking) for managers to learn from. There is a great opportunity for six sigma blogs as the field is not crowded with high value blogs on that topic.

Writing your own blog is the very best online way to create a brand for yourself (and to learn and grow). Given the workplace today, and how the future seems likely to unfold, building your own brand is a valuable career tool. Writing your own blog also builds your understanding of the topic. As you put your thoughts into words you have to examine them and often build a more complete understanding yourself before you can write about it.

You also build a network as you read and comment on other’s blogs and as others read and comment on your blog. YouTube can be used in a similar way (though I would use a blog to add text to the webcast and encourage comments on the blog rather than YouTube). Using an RSS blog feed reader is the first social network tool you should use (way before you sign up for Twitter or Facebook or anything). Podcasts can also. I have done a few podcast, most discussing the ideas in my management book. Videos and audio connect more deeply to people so they are wonderful methods to reach people. I should get some webcast up on YouTube; it is one of my plans that I haven’t gotten to you yet.

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Management Improvement Carnival #197

Posted on July 15, 2013  Comments (0)

Mark Graban is hosting the 197th edition of the Management Improvement Carnival on his Lean Blog, highlights include:

  • Michel Baudin’s Blog – “The Toyota Way 2001: the Necronomicon of Lean“: Michel wrote a great post about reflections on the internal “Toyota Way” document that was created in 2001. He says, “A document of this type about the way a company does business gives employees a framework to understand management decisions and business processes. The challenge in publishing it — even if only for employees — is to actually say something without binding management to courses of action that may become inadequate as business conditions evolve.”
  • ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value (Helen Zak) – “America’s Most Dangerous Industry“: The Center’s COO asks, “Did you know healthcare is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States?” She continues with some data and more excellent questions: ”Is worker safety the problem or is it a symptom? While all organizations say, “people are our greatest asset, ” few really have a culture that demonstrates that. How can you tell? One way to tell is the worker injury rate.”
  • Lifehacker – “Turn a Shampoo Bottle into an Over-the-Sink Sponge Holder“: A fun example of a small “hack” to make something better in your home. It reminds me of Kaizen, using creativity over capital. I like little things like this. In the post comments, a reader suggests punching holes in the holder to avoid a stinky sponge or mold. In Kaizen, it’s great to build upon and continue improving the improvement ideas of others.

Vist the Lean blog to see the rest of the great management blog posts shared in this edition of the management blog carnival.

Stated Versus Revealed Preference

Posted on July 9, 2013  Comments (3)

My father provided me a good example of the flawed thinking of relying on stated preference when I was growing up. Stated preference is, as you might deduce, the preferences voiced by customers when you ask. This is certainly useful but people’s stated preference often do not match there actions. And for a business, actions that lead to customers are more important than claims potential customers make about what will make them customers.

His example was that if you ask people if clean bathrooms in a restroom is required for a restaurant they will say yes. Potential customers will say this is non-negotiable, it is required. But if you eat at many “ethnic restaurants,” as we always did growing up, you would see many popular restaurants did not have clean restrooms. If the food at atmosphere was good enough clean restrooms were negotiable, even if customers stated they were not.

Now I think clean restrooms is a wise move for restaurants to make; it matters to people. Instead of creating a barrier to repeat customers that has to be overcome with much better food and atmosphere it is wiser to give yourself every advantage by giving the customers what they want. But I think the example is a simple example of stated versus revealed preferences.

McDonald’s gets a great deal of success by doing certain things well, including clean bathrooms, even if they miss on things some people think are important for a restaurant. McDonald’s really gets a fair amount of business for people driving a long distance that really want a clean bathroom and a quick stretch of their legs and quick food. This is a small percentage of McDonald’s customer visits but still a very large number of visits each day I am sure. Understanding, and catering to, the problem your customers are trying to solve is important.

The point to remember is what your potential customers say they will do is different than what they do. It is sensible to listen to stated preferences of customers just understand them for what they are.

We need to pay more attention to revealed preferences. Doing so can require putting in a bit more thinking than just asking customers to fill out a questionnaire. But it is worth the effort. A simple restaurant based example would be to have wait staff pay attention to what people leave on their plate. If you notice certain side dishes are not eaten more often, look into that and see what can be done (improving how it is prepared, substituting something else…).

Related: Voice of the CustomerThe Customer is the Purpose of Our WorkCustomers Are Often IrrationalPackaging Affects Our Perception of TasteBe Careful What You Measure

Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival #196

Posted on July 1, 2013  Comments (0)

The Curious Cat Management Improvement 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 thinking, leadership, innovation, respect for people, customer focus, etc..

  • The Management Work Ethic by Bill Waddell – “How on earth the folks in charge can trash the lives of 2,000 employees and their families in order to beat an earnings estimate, and keep a straight face while publishing a mission statement pledging to enable employees to ‘share in the company’s success’ is beyond me. Of course, the reason for such blatant hypocrisy is pure selfishness.”
  • Buying the new MacBook Air – “Most salespeople would have sold the more expensive computer, but this guy took the time to explain why I didn’t really need it, and convinced me to spend much less. Apple recognizes what few other retailers do: customer satisfaction starts even before a product is purchased, and it is customer satisfaction that makes companies great.”
  • photo on McKittrick Canyon trail in Texas

    McKittrick Canyon trail, Texas, USA. By John Hunter.

  • “Customer-In” Design – Best Achieved by Front-line Workers by Tripp Babbitt – “Front-line workers can offer any service organization insight into what is wrong with their design of service in real-time.”
  • Growing Deadwood in the Organization by Gregg Stocker – “I have found that, in many organizations, the responsibility to coach and develop talent is much lower on the list of priorities than documenting and replacing the poor performers. This is surprising when one considers what it costs the organization to hire, train, and fire employees. In my experience, this type of situation generally results from a lack of knowledge of how to develop people and/or impatience (or short-term thinking).”
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What is the Explanation Going to be if This Attempt Fails?

Posted on June 25, 2013  Comments (0)

Occasionally during my career I have been surprised by new insights. One of the things I found remarkable was how quickly I thought up a new explanation for what could have caused a problem when the previously expressed explanation was proven wrong. After awhile I stopped finding it remarkable and found it remarkable how long it took me to figure out that this happened.

I discovered this as I programmed software applications. You constantly have code fail to run as you expect and so get plenty of instances to learn the behavior I described above. While I probably added to my opportunities to learn by being a less than stellar coder I also learned that even stellar coders constantly have to iterate through the process of creating code and seeing if it works, figuring out why it didn’t and trying again.

The remarkable thing is how easily I could come up with an new explanation. Often nearly immediately upon what I expected to work failing to do so. And one of the wonderful things about software code is often you can then make the change in 10 minutes and a few minutes later see if it worked (I am guessing my brain kept puzzling over the ideas involved and was ready with a new idea when I was surprised by failure).

When I struggled a bit to find an initial explanation I found myself thinking, “this has to be it” often because of two self reinforcing factors.

First, I couldn’t think of anything else that would explain it. Sometimes you will think right away of 4 possible issues that could cause this problem. But, when I struggled to find any and then finally came up with an idea it feels like if there was another possibility I should have thought of it while struggling to figure out what I finally settled on.

Second, the idea often seems to explain exactly what happened, and it often feels like “of course it didn’t work, what was I thinking I need to do x.” This often turns out to be true, doing x solves the problem and you move on. But a remarkable percentage of the time, say even just 10%, it doesn’t. And then I would find myself almost immediately thinking, of course I need to do y. Even when 10 seconds ago I was convinced there was no other possibility.

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Getting Known Good Ideas Adopted

Posted on June 19, 2013  Comments (2)

This month Paul Borawski asked ASQ’s Influential Voices to explore two questions; first, what is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society?

I really think it is just getting the good ideas to improve management, that have been around for decades, adopted. This might not seem that important. But I hear almost no talk about this and tons of talk about all sorts of “new ideas” for management.

The “new ideas” that I look into don’t seem like very new ideas to me. The best of these ideas are usually well thought out tweaks and enhancements (along with a potentially better presentation of the core ideas) that are useful. But they are really just about getting old ideas adopted, it seems to me. Still this is good and useful work.

Unfortunately the vast majority seems to me to be overly simplistic ideas that involved more thought in creating something to market than in creating something to improve the practice of management.

We seem to spend all sorts of time and energy focused on new branding for management ideas when we would be better off focusing on how to get organizations to adopt good practices. I think the distraction with finding new ways of clothing the same old ideas is a distraction that prevents focus where it would be more worthwhile. This is especially true because those rebranding old ideas often don’t understand the old idea. They seem to see it would easier to sell if it were simplified so they do that and rebrand it but they don’t understand that they left of critical components and it won’t work – even if it is easier to sell.

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Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog Carnival #195

Posted on June 15, 2013  Comments (1)

The Curious Cat management blog carnival has been published since 2006. New posts are published twice a month. I also publish a collection management improvement articles on the Curious Cat management improvement articles site.

  • If you develop people results will follow! by Tracey Richardson – “They developed us and conditioned us to always ask questions based on standards to current state, that pure essence kept us perpetuating the thinking until it became the “norm”. I reflect back now and realize it was all really simple when you have leaders aligned with expectations, discipline and accountability that were first and foremost. It wasn’t Lean, it was our JOB! Imagine that concept! It wasn’t a choice, option or convenience thing, it was how we did business everyday, we all lived it because it was who we were.”
  • Can You Really Improve Your Emotional Intelligence? by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic – “While many ingredients are required for a good coaching program, the most important aspect of effective EQ-coaching is giving people accurate feedback. Most of us are generally unaware of how others see us — and this especially true for managers. As noted , ‘it is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated, and apparently responsible people rarely pause to contemplate their own behaviors.’”
  • The Development of Deming’s Management System – Mike Tveite: “I achieved my goal by not my aim. That happens a lot, we honestly translate aims to goals. And then we do stupid things in the name of the goal get it the way of the aim. We forget the aim sometimes and put the goal in its place.” [the video above shows Mike his experience with this problem]
  • Pivots and Portfolios: A Contrarian View by John Hagel – “Rather than pivoting, we can periodically step back and reflect on our progress, then rapidly iterate and enhance the initiatives we are pursuing to achieve near-term impact. By constantly zooming out and zooming in, we maintain focus on what is really important and avoid spreading ourselves too thin. Within the context of a stable framework, agile methodologies of rapid iteration and learning can become powerful vehicles for progress.”
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Experience Teaches Nothing Without Theory

Posted on June 11, 2013  Comments (2)

“Experience teaches nothing. In fact there is no experience to record without theory… Without theory there is no learning… And that is their downfall. People copy examples and then they wonder what is the trouble. They look at examples and without theory they learn nothing.”

W. Edwards Deming in The Deming of America




Our brains are good at creating theories, from our experiences, so that our brain can learn. However when this is done only subconsciously we can be led astray. And in complex situations where it is not easy to see the causal relationships (managing human systems for example) it easier for us to be led astray when we are not consciously thinking about the theory driving our thoughts and decisions.

When we are learning (as little kids) we don’t understand that are brain is creating theories to help us learn. But our brain is creating theories and testing them out. What happens when we push the spoon off our high chair? Lets try it 500 times and see. After repeated experiments, we learn a good deal about how gravity will affect objects no matter where you are, no matter if you are in a highchair, or a stroller or a slide or your mother’s lap… We also learn about how people will react (psychology).

Our brains are great at creating theories and testing them even without us understanding that is what is going on. But managers need to push past this subconscious learning to understand the theories behind their actions or they will spend lots of time on activities that are wasteful, similar to the bird in this webcast:

Worm charming is a behavior birds use to encourage worms to go to the surface so the birds can then eat them. The methods used vary, however tapping earth with feet to generate vibrations is widespread. One theory for why the worms go to the surface is the vibrations are similar to those produced by digging moles, which prey on earthworms.

This bird doesn’t understand the theory behind their instinct. Therefore the bird can’t understand that a worm is not likely to burst through the pavement. Too often managers are applying behaviors without understanding the theory (or without evidence showing that the practice based on the theory is effective – failing to practice evidence based management). And so the managers don’t understand that the behavior will not be successful given the conditions they find themselves in.

Related: We are Being Ruined by the Best Efforts of People Who are Doing the Wrong ThingHow We Know What We KnowThe Illusion of Knowledge

Leadership and Management

Posted on June 4, 2013  Comments (7)

I don’t think the attempts to separate leadership and management are useful. I read plenty of things that are variations on Peter Drucker’s:

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

A manager that is not concerned about doing the right things is a lousy manager. And a leader that doesn’t care about doing things right is a lousy leader.

Another theme of this contrasting type quote says some version of:

“Managers care about efficiency and leaders care about effectiveness”

A manager who doesn’t strive to be effective is also a lousy manager. It is also odd to suppose the detached leader (the type that lets the manager deal with the mundane while they dream), one that doesn’t concern themselves with customer focus, value chains, going to the gemba really has a clue about effectiveness. The idea seems mainly to view a manager is a cog looking at some tiny process and making it efficient without understanding the organization as a system or value chains or customer focus.

I think, the main problem is all of the attempts to contrast leaders and managers. Much of the time people are saying managers don’t do things they certainly should be doing.

The desire to express how leadership traits can be used by those without organizational authority are useful. Discussion of how certain traits can be seen as within the domain of leadership I suppose may be useful (it can help our minds see how various traits and practices combine to help get results – and we can categorize these under “leadership”).

Leaders that are primarily “big thinkers” and motivators without a clue about how to actually do the things they advocate (the model of “managers” deal with the implementation with blinders to the system while “leaders” are “above the fray”) is not useful in my opinion. It does note a somewhat common practice (in organizations today) but not one that is wise. Separating leadership from the gemba is not wise. Separating leadership from a deep understanding of customers is not wise. Separating leadership from how the organization actually works is not wise.

Plenty of others seem to disagree with my opinion though, there are many articles, blog posts, podcasts, talks… on separating leadership from management.

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Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog Carnival #194

Posted on June 1, 2013  Comments (0)

The Curious Cat Management Improvement 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 John Hunter online: Google+, Twitter and elsewhere.

  • Define Your Organization’s Habits to Work More Efficiently by Brad Power – We need to do away with the notion that standards necessarily mean rigidity. Rather, standard work can help people do their jobs consistently and reliably, and improve how they do it… he traditional view that efficiency requires bureaucracy and that bureaucracy impedes flexibility should be replaced with a new model: clever application of standard work allows you to have efficiency and flexibility.
  • Forget passion, focus on process by Matt Linderman – “Find meaning in what you’re doing. Work to improve your industry. Get joy from making a customer’s day. Surround yourself with the kinds of people and environment that keep you engaged. Figure out the details and day-to-day process that keep you stimulated. Focus on how you execute and making continual improvements.”
  • photo of The Family, a sculpture by David Green

    The Family, a sculpture by David Green. Photo by John Hunter during trip to Los Angels.

  • Effective Communication is Explicit by John Hunter – “Making communication explicit and obvious, so that everyone that needs to know, does, will reduce problems and reduce the damage the problems that were not eliminated cause.”
  • Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side by Justin Elliott – This post discusses the system problem (waste whey). I also like how it shows academics helping to find solutions for business, again showing how professors can be part of the business process improvement when playing a role of innovators, experimenters to find solutions for the system.
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Peter Senge on Systems Thinking

Posted on May 28, 2013  Comments (1)

People must be willing to challenge their mental models in order to find non-obvious areas of high leverage – which allow significant improvement.

System thinking is a term that is often confusing to people. From my perspective it is important to understand the importance of leverage. Understanding systems lets you find solutions that may not be direct, but provide powerful leverage. Another important point is looking at the organization as a system.

Understanding the interdependence of the aspects of the system/organization/process is also important (and part of seeing the organization as a system). We often don’t consider how changes will impact other areas of the system that are not immediately apparent. This weakness in how we often think today, results in great opportunities to improve by factoring in the impacts that are not as obvious.

As Peter Senge mentions in the video the concept of long term thinking plays a role. Often we are now neglecting or vastly under-appreciating long term impacts (focusing on only the results in the short term) and thus often their are opportunities to improve just by factoring in not just the short term impacts but also placing importance on longer term impacts.

Peter Senge: “Its not about the smartest guys in the room its about what we can do collectively. So the intelligence that matters is the concept of collective intelligence.”

Related: We are Being Ruined by the Best Efforts of People Who are Doing the Wrong ThingHow to Get a New Management Strategy, Tool or Concept AdoptedBuild an Environment Where Intrinsic Motivation Flourishes

Executive Leadership

Posted on May 21, 2013  Comments (3)

Senior executives must lead management improvement efforts. When senior executives only give lip service to management efforts the result is normally the same: little happens.

When Dr. Deming was working with companies after the 1980′s NBC white paper, If Japan Can Why Can’t We, he wouldn’t work with companies if the CEO wasn’t attending the meetings and learning how to manage the organization better. Dr. Deming had seen far too many CEOs want improvement but wanted to delegate the effort of getting there. Dr. Deming saw when senior executives delegated improving the management system it didn’t work.

There are a number of problems with senior executives not taking improvement seriously. First, and most common, they don’t really believe it and have no interest in improving practices – they just want to magically get better results without improving how things are done.

Second many senior executives don’t understand what management improvement is about. They think it is something those other people do on the factor floor or in the call center or somewhere. The most important changes will be in the c-suite for organizations that make substantial improvements. But when executives are out of touch (as so many are) in both management practice and how their organization actually works (at the gemba) then improvement efforts are extremely difficult.

If those senior executives are taking part in the improving the management system they will learn and then will be able to help improve the management system. If they are not engaged in actively working PDSA (on their workload) learning about variation, looking at their organization as a system, making changes to the organization given an understanding of respect for people the potential gains are severely limited.

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Management Improvement Blog Carnival #193

Posted on May 15, 2013  Comments (0)

The Curious Cat Management Improvement 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 thinking, innovation, respect for people, customer focus, etc..

  • Dr. Deming’s “Role of a Manager of People” by Mark Graban – quoting Dr. Deming “A manager understands and conveys to his people the meaning of a system. He explains the aim of the system. He teaches his people to understand how the work of the group supports these aims.”
  • Does Standard Work Destroy Creativity? by Janet Dozier – “When standard work is consistently and uniformly adhered to, it drives continuous improvement by exposing problems within the process. Making problems easier to see inspires planned experimentation to discover better ways to perform the work. Standards are the foundation for continuous improvement.”
  • How to Be Startup CEO by Ryan Allis – “In my experience the three most important components of the Start-up CEO’s role are:
    1. Creating a product that solves a real customer need (and convincing customers to pay for it).
    2. Making sure your users and customers have an extremely positive emotional experience with your product.
    3. Recruiting a great team to build your product.”
  • Distorting the System, Distorting the Data or Improving the System by John Hunter – “It is good to get in the habit of considering if the measured improvements are truly an indication of an improved system or merely the result of distorting the system or the data.”
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Lean Blog Podcast with John Hunter

Posted on May 13, 2013  Comments (1)

Mark Graban interviewed me for the Lean Blog podcast series: Podcast #174 – John Hunter, “Management Matters” (listen using this link). Links to more information on what we discussed in the podcast.

More podcasts with me: Software Process and Measurement Podcast With John HunterBusiness 901 Podcast: Deming’s Management Ideas TodayProcess Excellence Network Podcast with John Hunter

Management Improvement Blog Carnival #192

Posted on May 1, 2013  Comments (2)

The Curious Cat management blog carnival has been published since 2006. New posts are published twice a month. I also publish a collection management improvement articles on the Curious Cat management improvement articles site.

  • Customer Service Andon Cord: Jeff Bezos and Customer Experience by Pete Abilla – “Lean principles have taken such a hold on Amazon and on Jeff Bezos that job titles now contain terms often used in Lean Manufacturing. For example, Jeff Bezos’ comment on ‘Customer Service Andon’ – well, it’s also a current job opening at Amazon…”
  • The Neuroscience of Deming by John Hunter – From the video (embedded below), JW Wilson: “Fast thinking is what you use when you are running from the bear, slow thinking is the kind of thinking you use when you want to change the world… We think we only have time to run from the bear; the consequences are devastating… [slow thinking is required for] making adaption to unsuccessful attempts”
  • Procter & Gamble: Basis Point Wise, Percentage Point Foolish by Bill Conerly – “If one of the parties in a transaction has to borrow, it should be the party with the cheaper debt cost.” [This is another example of stovepipe thinking and optimizing part of the system at great expense to the whole. People continue to fail to apply decades olds knowledge of the benefits of focusing on system improvement instead of optimizing components within the system. In addition to systems thinking failures it is an example of a focus on financial metrics themselves which often leads to silly actions due to not appreciating the proxy nature of measures. - John].
  • Are you providing leadership or support? by Dan Markovitz – Leadership means hacking through the jungle with a machete, clearing a path for front-line staff, supervisors, and managers to follow.
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