Business901 Book Specials from other authors on Amazon

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Difficulty of Mastery = The Difficulty of Lean

Dan Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is an excellent description of modern day Lean practices. Just using the example of Mastery from the book will give you an idea on how powerful of a process Lean actually is. I would encourage you to visit the Mastery chapter in Dan Pink’s Drive book for more background. He states that mastery is based on three laws:

  1. Mastery is a mindset
  2. Mastery is a Pain
  3. Mastery is an Asymptote

He also states that flow is essential to mastery:  “But flow doesn’t guarantee mastery—because the two concepts operate on different horizons of time. One happens in a moment; the other unfolds over months, years, sometimes decades. You and I each might reach flow tomorrow morning—but neither one of us will achieve mastery overnight.”

In Lean terminology, I can restate these same three laws this way:

  1. Lean is a culture
  2. Lean is grounded in Standard Work
  3. Lean is an Ideal

We also think of Lean in terms of creating flow. But just as flow does not guarantee mastery, flow does not allow us to become Lean. Flow happens along the way of becoming Lean. Many people think they are Lean companies once they have done 5S, Value Stream Mapping or held a few Kaizen Events. The truth is just like mastering anything, it does not happen overnight. 

Why does it take so long? Why do so few achieve it? From Dan Pink again: “Mastery is a pain.” That is why it seldom is done. When implementing  Lean, most people draw the wrong conclusion and assume it is Leadership. They blame leadership as being shortsighted. This view is not only wrong; it is dead wrong. Our primary problem is not leadership but a long standing culture that is engrained  within our organizations. It’s the way we do things. But worse it is also the way others help us do things. The outside forces that surround us to include vendors, customers and for that matter our entire supply chain simply supports the way we have always done things.  So, not only do we have to create change internally but externally as well. It is not only a pain but it has to be someone else’s pain. Or does it?

From my blog post, If less than 1% of companies are successful with Lean, why are we doing it?, I stated: What does work is the same thing for both people and organizations. It is the scientific process of trial and error. You don’t get it right at first, you have to break habits, personal habits as an individual and company cultures as an organization. Successful companies do it a little bit at a time. In Lean, we call this scientific method PDCA. We plan, do it, check the results and adjust. It is a purposeful experimentation. Expert pinned on noticeboard

In the book, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success the authors created a strategic, step-by-step guide to breaking longstanding bad habits introduce a system for adopting-and sticking to-better behaviors. I found the work paralleling Lean in many of its approaches and put Lean practices in parenthesis. Their strategy is based on four simple steps:

  1. Identify Crucial Moments (Identify Value)
  2. Create Vital Behaviors (Map Value Stream)
  3. Engage All Six Sources of Influence (Create Flow – Enable Pull)
  4. Turn Bad Days into Good Data (Seek Perfection - PDCA)

What people forget about Lean is that it is the change agent for an organization.  In its simplest form, you first go and see the current state. Second, you visualize your process. You make your process steps visible. You visualize things in a way that reveals your problems, not in a way to hide problems. If you understand what standards are, how the process should work because it's very clear, then whenever we see a variation from the process we react immediately. This allows you to chose one problem from the other and just solves them one by one. This is incredibly powerful, this vision we have with lean systems of increasing our competency, increasing our training without having to take people off line, without having to get to classrooms, but by building it into the way we work. It is this empowering aspect that is not easy. But it may be the only way an organization can master Lean.

Related Information:
Audio Collection of Dr. Balle on Kaizen
Continuous Improvement, The Toyota Way
Marketing with PDCA eBook released on Business901 Website
Lean is not a revolution, Lean is solve one thing and prove one thing!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Inspiring Innovation thru Standard Work

Standard work should be an enabler of innovation, not a hindrance. In an upcoming Business901 podcast with Terri Griffith, we will take a look at a few of these principles and find out why it is so important to access where you are at before venturing into the unknown. In the premier show of Innovators Exchange, Tad Milbourn, senior product manager of Intuit Brainstorm, speaks with Terri Griffith, author and professor of Management at Santa Clara University. Tad and Terri discuss her new book, The Plugged-In Manager and the role that a plugged-in manager can play in inspiring innovation. It serves as an excellent preview to the podcast.

Related Information:
The importance of PDCA in Marketing
Even Seinfeld used Standard Work
The SDCA Cycle Description for a Lean Engagement Team
Is your Innovation a Gateway for Others?

Monday, December 19, 2011

In your Organization, who is responsible for Demand?

Adrian Slywotzky is a consultant and author of several books on economic theory and management. He is best known for his work on profitability and growth, and for pioneering the concept of business design and business model innovation. Slywotzky’s has been a favorite author of mine and his books include Value Migration and The Profit Zone. His latest book, Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It is a must read for this year. It goes right to the heart of many of the issues in business today. An excerpt from the book:

We often think that demand comes from pulling the right levers: more marketing, better advertising, more aggressive sales efforts, distributing coupons, offering discounts. Tactics like these do have their time and place, and they can bring short-term results.

But real demand is not about any of these things. Demand creators spend all of their time trying to understand people. They are acutely aware of how hopeful, jaded, funny, impulsive, unreasonable, irascible, ambitious, distrustful, enigmatic, enthusiastic, frustrated, and unpredictable we really are. They try to understand our aspirations, what we need, what we hate, what gives us an emotional charge—and, most important, what we might really love. By watching how people actually behave in their own worlds, and by talking to them constantly, demand creators figure out how to solve the big and little hassles we all face—and they make our days easier, more convenient, more productive, and simply more fun. They seem to know what we want even before we do. They wind up creating things people can’t resist and competitors can’t copy.

This video is an excellent recap of the book and only about 14 minutes long.


Thinkers50 2011 Ranking: Adrian was named among the 50 leading business thinkers.

Related Information:
Do you understand where demand comes from?
It’s the Who, not the Why @simonsinek
It’s not about the things we make, it’s how we use the things we make
Work on demand, ‘It’s the demand side, stupid’

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Timeboxing using Pomodoro!

The quickest drivers of time management is visualization, focus and clarity. What I talked about the other day is to have an action step with your reference material in hand, Evolution of Standard Work in my Sales and Marketing and Even Seinfeld used Standard Work. Be able to complete the task without having to look for anything. This will help both clarity and from the visual aspect since the supporting material is right there. Amazing how you can just reach for something and get side tracked sometimes.

The other area that is neglected is focus. So how do you focus? There are 2 areas external distraction and internal – self-inflicted. In your home office, make sure there is a door. Open means you can be disturbed and closed means you can’t. You want to focus – close the door! Don’t have your e-mail or Skype pop up if it distracts you. Give yourself 10 minutes an hour, every two hours or something that you do that. Leave other members on the team know that you check and accept messages at the top of the hour for 5 minutes during your time zone of focus.Tomato

From Wikpedia:

When I want to get a task done, I use The Pomodora Technique . A time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called 'Pomodoros' (from the Italian word for 'tomatoes') separated by breaks. Closely related to concepts such as timeboxing and iterative and incremental development used in software design, the method has been adopted in pair programming contexts. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.

There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done
  2. Set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes (I use a tomato timer by the way)
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes)
  5. Every four "pomodoros" take a longer break (15–20 minutes)

The above is the technique as described in literature. You may find a slightly different time works for you but the secret is to go full bore –a sprint than take a break. The reverse analogy of the tortoise and the hare.  It actually works very well. Try doing it for a call session of two hours broken into 4 pomodoros. But make sure you don’t have to get up to reach or touch anything during that time. Let team members know that if they want to call you do so at the top of the hour. You may have to lengthen the break for 10 minutes or to handle outside distractions. But it is important that you do the sprint.

I actually use this technique in writing all the time. The first 15 minutes I just force myself to write and don’t stop. I stop for a minute and start again. If I slow up I just press the space bar at  a slower rate. I do this twice equaling 30 minutes. The next 30 minutes after a break I edit what I wrote. Then I go back and start over. I repeat this over and over.  I will typically edit it one or two times more but you get my drift. A great book on the subject of overcoming writer’s block is Accidental Genius. A mind map is located on the Business901 Mindmap page.

Related Book: Pomodoro Technique Illustrated

Related Information:
Kanban too simple To be Effective?
The importance of PDCA in Marketing
Even Seinfeld used Standard Work
The SDCA Cycle Description for a Lean Engagement Team

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Even Seinfeld used Standard Work

If you want execution, keep it simple!. From a business stand point, there are many more success stories, that are founded on simple, focused ideas, than complex ones. Lean Sales and Marketing is a very simple concept, it is a learn be doing approach. If you can master this, you will be successful in sales and marketing. It can be taught in 3 steps:

  1. Go and See the USER.
  2. Form a vision of where the USER wants to go.
  3. Visualize the USER’s decision process.

In practice, Lean Sales and Marketing is essentially a knowledge transfer system; it's a training system on how to define knowledge gaps and close them. How you learn or develop this new skill is the same way you are taught to become proficient at anything. It is how often you do something, not how much you do. As a result, the best way to learn is keep it simple (clarity), do it often (repetition/iteration) and make it manageable. In the Lean sense, make standard work visual and uncomplicated.   Seinfeld

A great example of making something simple is the Seinfeld calendar. On the lifehacker blog , he described the calendar that Jerry Seinfeld used to make himself write:

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing; I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

The idea is to have a calendar for each action step. Write the task above it and start building your chain.

And yes, there is an app for this called Streaks!

StreaksThis daily action builds habits. I encourage the Lean Engagement Teams that I work with to create daily habits through their reports used at the daily standup meeting. Going through their action plan and either answering a yes or no or maybe a number they start creating a daily plan something very simple. The secret is not to break the chain.  After doing this for a while it becomes a habit and something you enjoy doing. It is like a checkmark on a checklist or moving the card on a Kanban to the “Done” Column. You could even equate it to a batter on a hitting streak and use an app.

Related Information:
The SDCA Cycle Description for a Lean Engagement Team
The Resilience of PDCA
Lean Canvas for Lean EDCA-PDCA-SDCA
Successful Lean teams are iTeams

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Integrated approach of Lean, Six Sigma, and TOC to deliver results in Healthcare

Bahadir Inozu, Ph.D., the Chief Executive Officer and Dan Chauncey, the Director of Deployment Services for NOVACES joined me in this podcast to discuss an integrated approach for using three industrially based methods, Lean, Six Sigma, and Constraints Management to transform hospital operations. They have just published a book, Performance Improvement for Healthcare that explains how using the right tool for the right problem at the right time from a systems perspective, the authors show how to deliver faster results and greater return on investment. pi-book-order

  • Scales to any size organization and aligns easily to varying needs
  • Shortens traditional execution time from adoption to results
  • Optimizes the utilization of resources required to accomplish the desired goals
  • Breaks organizational constraints and maximizes organizational efficiency
  • Sustains the gains and defines a path to self-sufficiency
  • Achieves a global impact through strategy alignment and focused project selection
  • Shows how to integrate Constraints Management with Lean and Six Sigma to create a “best of breed” approach
  • Explains how hospitals can deploy or re-energize their performance improvement program specifically for what’s most important for their particular organization

Download Podcast: Click and choose options: TOCHealthcare or go to the Business901 iTunes Store.

About Novaces: A management consulting firm that provides performance management, continuous process improvement (CPI), and project management services to both public and private sector organizations. NOVACES helps its clients build capabilities in today's most effective methodologies to achieve breakthrough operational and financial results.

Related Information:
Lean Six Sigma for Government
Lean Six Sigma will increase effectiveness of Stimulus spending
The Hell with the Economic Stimulus Package – I’ll Lead
Balancing Internal and External Lean Six Sigma Consulting Roles
Leading the Way in Iowa Quality Training

Friday, December 2, 2011

GE CMO sheds her view on Design Thinking

In a rare interview, GE's SVP and Chief Marketing Officer Beth Comstock talks to Behance's Scott Belsky about what it takes to keep great ideas alive in a big company. Offering essential insights for creative leaders, the conversation touches on the power of passion and storytelling in getting ideas off the ground, why we should make heroes out of failures, and the challenges of driving change amidst bureaucracy.

Beth Comstock: Make Heroes Out of the Failures from 99% on Vimeo.

As I end the week and ready for next weeks series of Blog posts, you will find this interview quite timely. Her discussion is quite interesting when viewed on the future of Design in business and how we look at value, a step removed from the customer. I do not think organizations are expecting designers to design business models but with the acceptance of the Business Model Generation Template by Alex Osterwalder it is becoming quite clear that it may be something to consider.

Thoughts from this conversation: Every organization says that they are customer centric but few are. They are still selling features and benefits. As the next stage of development into user-centric organizations takes place, it will take quite a jump for organizations to bridge that gap. If they think they had trouble at customer centric levels, look out. When organizations start shifting that direction the Business Savvy Designer will have a great opportunity. It is already being seen and driven not only the BMGen Template but the understanding that the supply chain has shifted to favor the customer. We live in a world of excess supply and the value in use concepts are becoming ever more the driver of design and business.

The host of the program, Scott Belsky is the founder of Behance and author of the book, Making Ideas Happen. This next week when I discuss Standard Work for Lean Sales and Marketing teams, you will see how it has influenced my thoughts about project management. The methodology is based on boiling down projects to the most basic elements with an emphasis on action. The approach is called  The Action Method. and is my task management planner of choice. It is extremely simple and highly intuitive for a single person and/or team. I use the paper, online and the app for my iPhone all in combination with very little of redundant work.

Related Information:
Lean Canvas for Lean EDCA-PDCA-SDCA
Successful Lean teams are iTeams
The use of Hansei in Lean Sales and Marketing
Developing a winning Culture the Zappos way!