I have been blogging for 10 years, which is more than enough time to convince me it is right for me. Blogging fits my personality—I like short delivery cycles. I don’t like the idea of working on a project that takes a year to reach the audience or customers. With blogging, I can have an idea, and in an hour I can share that with people across the globe. Blogging is similar to agile software development in this way: minimize work-in-progress and deliver working software—or in blogging, text—to users as quickly as possible. Then iterate and extend.
One of the benefits I didn’t appreciate before I started was how blogging helps build your knowledge and understanding—in the same way teaching helps you learn the topic you are discussing in a deeper way.
I find myself more thoughtful and engaged with ideas because I think about how I can build on those ideas in a blog post. When I start writing, I sometimes realize I don’t actually understand the idea or topic as well as it seemed I did. So I must think about it more to be able to understand it well enough to write about it.
See the whole article to see the rest of my responses and thoughts from Mark Graban, Jennifer Stepniowski, Jimena Calfa and Daniel Zrymiak. The article is available for free, though you do have to register to view that article (registering will also let you view the other articles ASQ has made available to non-members).
Eiji Toyoda – the Master Innovator by Bill Waddell – “He was a master innovator in the days when innovation wasn’t cool, and his focus was not so much on the product as it was on the processes – on management.”
The Man Who Saved Kaizen by Jon Miller – “Eiji Toyoda led from the front. His message to leaders within Toyota: ‘I want you to use your own heads. And I want you actively to train your people on how to think for themselves.'”
Lean IT at Toyota by Pierre Masai – “educate yourself on the subject, since so many stories of dramatic or step-by-step improvements do exist out there. Then, soon after, experiment yourself. This is the basis of TPS. Make sure you also get enthusiastic people on board, and take the support of experienced external coaches if you need this to get started. Create a culture within your company where the principles of lean become embedded in everything you do.”
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).
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.
What Could we do Better? – There are many important ideas to improve management. This is one of the most important tips to aid improvement that I know of: it is easy to do, brings huge benefits and most organizations fail to do it. Ask your customers: “What one thing could we do to improve?”
Common Cause Variation – “Every system has variation. Common cause variation is the variation due to the current system. Dr. Deming increased his estimate of variation due to the system (common cause variation) to 97% (earlier in his life he cited figures as low as 80%). Special cause variation is that due to some special (not part of the system) cause.”
Sub-Optimize by Interrupting Knowledge Workers – “The general consensus is that the loss from interrupting [software] developers is much greater than for interrupting most other forms of work and therefor a great deal of effort is placed on improving the system to allow developers to focus.”
Amazon Innovation – “I believe Amazon uses technology very well. They have done many innovative things. They have been less successful at turning their technology into big profits. But I continue to believe they have a good shot at doing so going forward (and their core business is doing very well I think).” [Amazon announced great sales numbers today, continuing their long term tread. They are also continuing to be very slow to grow profits (CEO, Jeff Bezos remains willing to challenge common practices – such as his willingness to build business and sacrifice current profits)].
Evidence Soup by Tracy Allison Altman. This is a blog about assessing evidence. If statistics are not your thing, you’ll pick up some tips and tricks that will help you analyze evidence to guide your decision making. If you’re a statistical whiz, you’ll find a lot here that’s just fun.
Representative Recent Post: Big Ideas may not have supporting evidence, but they sell books by the boatload.
“Haven’t we had enough of authors pitching an oversimplified analysis of something important? It’s great to boil things down into plain language, but when an entire book is based on A Big Idea, complicated things are glossed over, evidence is cherry-picked, we get bamboozled. (And books are sold. Maybe I’m just jealous.)”
Life in Perpetual Beta by Harold Jarche. Harold Jarche’s blog is the point in my universe where a host of sources on personal knowledge management and the changing workplace come together. In addition to his own lucid analysis, Harold supplies pointers to many great sources that are new to me. As a bonus, this blog could serve as a primer on using illustrations to explain concepts. The representative post describes Harold’s view of what the blog is about.
Representative Recent Post: Adapting to Life in Perpetual Beta “On my consulting page, I have summarized my perspectives on 21st century work. It’s called: Adapting to Life in Perpetual Beta.
There is no such thing as a social media strategy.
There are only business strategies that understand networks.
I hope you enjoy Wally’s carnival post and find some new ideas worth pursuing. I have added a couple more blogs to me RSS feed reader. The management improvement carnival is posted 3 times a month spotlighting great posts related to management.
Resist your machine thinking! [the broken link was removed] by Jeff Liker – “To maintain consistent output, one must continually adjust the system to changing environmental conditions. This is called dynamic homeostasis in systems thinking, or running to stay in place. … Maintenance comes from having clearly defined standards, observing carefully for deviations from those standards, and then developing and implementing countermeasures to eliminate the deviations.”
5 lessons from an Information Architecture career by Martin Belam – “Over the years I’ve learned that pragmatic UX that gets software shipped is more valuable than perfecting your pre-build documentation.
This lesson is very much tied up with the ideas of progressive iterations, and improving things from the base of a ‘minimum viable product’… There is nothing less compelling than shipping nothing at all.”
Pop quiz: Lean-ify this iPad case by Kathleen Fasanella – “Here is a summary of the specific items you mentioned: Having the work piece, waste can, tools and equipment arranged optimally. Component placement was (mostly) eyeballed, several suggested jigs or templates for layout. David suggested notching for more efficient placement. The fabric covers should have been cut with rounded covers to eliminate the messy and wasteful step of hand trimming.”
Demystifying the Product Owner by – the product owner leads product discovery: “to help identify and describe requirements, and to ensure that the product backlog is ready for the next sprint planning meeting. It also means that the product owner has to engage in product planning, visioning and product road mapping…”
Working in the cracks in the system [the broken link was removed] by Wally Bock – “Use the situation as an opportunity for conversation. Talk to John in private. Tell him you’ve noticed that he’s been coming in late and tell him why that matters to you and to the team. After you say that, wait for John to speak next.”
Once again I think the review provided a reminder many excellent posts from the last year and showed us some posts we missed. In addition, hopefully you found new blogs to add to the RSS feeds you subscribe to. With the enormous number of excellent management blogs, it makes me wonder why we still see so many management miscues.
Dennis Stevens writes a blog of the same name focused on agile software development principles with a strong focus on Dr. Deming’s ideas and lean thinking.
What’s Deming got to do with Agile – “Deming is not about manufacturing. He is about showing management how to create an environment for success. Deming is about culture – and his System of Profound Knowledge creates an environment that is especially effective for knowledge work… In knowledge work, where products are invisible, impact can be difficult to demonstrate. Kanban clearly shows progress and demonstrates the contribution of each person to the delivery of value. Additionally, PDSA provides opportunities for everyone to contribute to improving the quality of the organization’s capabilities.”
Kanban Mental Models and Double Loop Learning – “the Kanban cycle supports continuous learning that the team internalizes. Argyris’s model gives us some insight into why Kanban teams are consistently achieving double-loop learning and rapid maturity.”
We are Doing QQ All Wrong– “Developers should be using tools that support automated unit testing and only checking in code that passes all their unit tests… Test driven development or test just after development should be ubiquitous – but it is not. Continuous Integration environments that ensure that each check-in results in a valid and testable platform help teams perform integration and build validation.”
Shorten and Reduce Variability in Lead Times Using Kanban – ” identify and leverage strategies like reducing waiting, reducing rework, making work ready, defining small size work, and swarming, to improve lead time. Tracking causes of defects and blockages can help make decisions to focus these strategies appropriately. Reducing lead time duration and variability will result in increased predictability, faster feedback, improved flexibility and responsiveness.”
Common Mistakes when we are Problem Solving – “Not utilizing the ‘Power of the gemba’,–or often referred to as “Go see the work/process“.!! I often see teams working together in a room trying to solve the problem by using their experiences, hypothetical guesses, and what their opinion is. I quickly disperse the huddle to “go-see” with their own eyes the current situation.”
How many different types of A3’s are there? – “I will briefly describe the 4 different types of A3’s and when to use them based on my experience: Problem Solving A3, Proposal A3, Status Report A3, Strategic Planning A3. All A3’s should follow the PDCA thinking regardless of which type you are working on.”
Why is asking “Why” so important? – “It is important to ask why repeatedly when visiting the gemba to determine what is current happening versus what should be happening. In many cases we stop at a symptom to the problem because we are often pressured for results and quickly solving the problem without going past the symptom seems to be the best answer.” [this one is actually from 2009 but I included it anyway – John]
As we did last year I think the review is providing a nice reminder of some excellent posts from the last year and showing us some posts we missed. In addition, hopefully you will find new blogs to add to our feed reader. There are an enormous number of excellent management blogs. It makes me wonder why we still see so many management miscues 🙂