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Drowning in Work? 0

Jim Benson’s new work, Why Limit WIP: We are Drowning in Work (MemeMachine Series) (Volume 2), was at the center of our conversation in this podcast. Jim’s company Modus Cooperandi combines Lean principles with Agile methodologies from software design, and the communications revolutions of social media, as a process and tool infrastructure. Jim is best known for his seminal work, Personal Kanban. He is @ourfounder on Twitter.


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Interview Questions on Lean Marketing 0

I answered these questions a while back for José Miguel Vives Martínez on for his blog, ALTACUNCTA.  I thought I would share the English version.

Where did you learn about Lean for the first time?

I have always been an avid reader and on a journey of personal continuous improvement. I learned about Lean during the time I was president of a company that manufactured construction equipment. After reading Lean Thinking by Womack and Jones, I realized that my mentor had been practicing these very same principles. He did not call it Lean, nor was it Lean – but in essence it was without many of the tools. I was extremely fortunate because the culture was already established. I did not know how difficult it was to create the atmosphere (Culture) till after I left.

Which are their key points of Lean Marketing?

Lean marketing is about installing a continuous improvement methodology to your sales and marketing process. It‘s about constantly improving every step up the way. In the smaller scheme of things it is about improving a launch, an advertising campaign and even a sales call. However, in the bigger scheme of things it is about building a structure that creates a learning organization based on an ever?increasing knowledge of what the customer values.

The Lean practice of PDCA is ideal for learning and creating knowledge activities. Following this process it allows individuals and teams to recognize and take advantage of opportunities, make decisions faster, and be more responsive to customers. As part of the PDCA cycle you get feedback on the action from listening to customers and the companies’ measurement systems. Having information, taking informed action and getting feedback is part of the natural PDCA cycle. And effectiveness comes from using and taking advantage of all your resources.

What is the roll of the technologies in Lean Marketing?

The new wave of marketing has seen an entirely new set of tools being used with the components of social media leading the way. No longer do we trust print media, radio, television and other forms of traditional media. The tools have all become a commodity. Why? What has happened is that we have innovated many of the same push marketing practices into today‘s nomenclature. Not really changing much except for the tools. Lean Sales and Marketing is not dependent or divorced from the tools. The feedback mechanisms and social media practices of today is what has finally allowed Lean to be applied to the Sales and Marketing arena.

Which are the benefits for a company adopting Lean Marketing?

Why won’t Lean commit to the Demand Chain the way it committed to the Supply chain? I have been addressed this issue in blog posts (Can Service Design increase Customer demand? and Is Lean and Six Sigma a waste of time?) and in many discussion groups and have found it baffling to me that most Lean practitioners resist this thought and either ignore it or try to tie sales and marketing to internal improvements. You would think most practitioners would be eager to apply their skills and Lean to the demand side. Unleashing the power of continuous improvement to the field of sales and marketing should not frighten anyone, it should inspire them. Addressing the demand side of the equation is the single most important improvement effort and game changer that can take place at a company today.

How Lean Marketing is received by the companies and which are the main barriers in order to be adopted and how we can to overcome it?

It stems back from the fundamental way that continuous improvement and quality has been developed. It has developed from the field of engineering which is laden with logical, step by step thinking processes. We find a problem define the solution and so on. It has worked very well on the supply chain side but the demand side is anything but logical and seldom follows any pattern. Value Stream Mapping on the demand side may identify numerous waste opportunities but which one would you remove? Why should 50% of your marketing fail? is not folklore, rather for most a true statement. It just does not match up to the logical thinker. Getting out of the office and interacting in the way your customer uses the product is foreign to most companies but is the predominate thought in Lean Sales and Marketing.

Why do you believe that Lean can be the future of marketing?

The ever increasing platforms of co?producing, open?innovation, co?creation is moving innovation from an exclusive internal platform to a more external platform. True innovation is not happening inside the 4 walls of an organization but out in the customers’ playground. As Voice of Customer tools get more sophisticated, we are not reacting and thinking of the next step needed to delight our customers, we are allowing them to show us the way. Organizations may lead in “design” but in use it is the customer and in use is where the value is derived. Marketing is no longer just about getting the message out. It is about bringing the message in. The Lean model builds a bridge for better communication and collaboration between your organization and the customer.

If you want to share any specific thoughts, you can do it right here completely free. Final thoughts, etc.

Many would argue the Lean is about incremental improvement. It does not allow for breakthrough thinking. I agree that SDCA and PDCA and even the continuous mindset may not deliver breakthrough thinking. However, like most things you start one step at a time. The culture of Innovation starts with culture of continuous improvement. To start with breakthrough thinking is very difficult and typically not successful. You cannot just turn it on. So starting with PDCA and a continuous improvement is the only successful way, to create this “i (little i) culture.

Ramping it up and truly doing breakthrough thinking, the big ‘I” is when you must engage and understand your customer/market extremely well. I like to use the term EDCA learned from Graham Hill to designate the Explore aspect of Lean. I view it as more of Design Type thinking content that allows for that collaborative learning cycle with a customer. This is a link to my blog post on the tools of SDCA, PDCA, EDCA: http://business901.com/?p=8490.

Why Lean? Design and Innovation takes place outside the four walls and Lean can be the methodology of choice. It drives both the Little i and the Big I. The first and foremost reason is that it allows the 1st step for innovation. Lean is the primary driver for the little i DNA. As a result, it allows for that culture to spread and create the DNA for the BIG I. Without Lean and the little i, you may never start!

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How Agile is Your Resource and Capacity Planning 0

I asked Jerry Manas, author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook: A Guide to Maximizing the Value of Your Limited People Resources, that question in a recent podcast. The podcast and entire transcription can be found at Resource & Capacity Planning.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:   Resource capacity and planning seems kind of very disciplined and very structured; is it?

Jerry: Well it’s structured in a way. It’s disciplined in that if you look at it contextually, with any organization, you have work coming in and there’s some kind of a brief step or to assess the work that’s coming in, if it’s bigger than a red box, where it should go, something like that, some kind of scoring or scoping or something with the work coming in. But then instead of just sending it into project execution and saying, okay let’s go – which a lot of companies do, they say okay let’s go and then resources aren’t available. Usually, you find that out when a project gets delayed or things like that.

It’s structured in the sense of as this work comes in, ideally it should hop over into some sort of investment planning or portfolio planning mode where the work can come in and you can assess it in the context of all the work in the portfolio. When you assess that, to whatever even if it’s a thinking step, whatever method you use, the idea is to bring it into the portfolio, assess where can this fit in, how does it fit in in terms of importance, what’s the available capacity to do this work and this is the part everybody leaves out, when can I do the work based on my capacity or do I need to start looking at alternative sourcing strategies and start using contractors. Contractors don’t always work for everything but if you have a strategy for it, some kind of strategy to say here are the cases where we’re going to consider bringing in contractors where it makes sense and then have those as an option, otherwise the work has to slip or really you just have limited options, either you reduce the scope and you slip the work or you bring in help. So even at that high level helps an organization.

When you plan when you can do the work, then you come over, and that’s when you can get into execution and then assigning your resources and things like that. But that missing piece, that whole capacity planning piece is what a lot of organizations skip and they don’t have the process to do that.

Joe:   I think one of the buzz words for a long time now is agile and in a lot of company, you asked anybody in any company, “Oh, we’re agile…” Does this conflict with an agile mentality or does it help it?

Jerry: Actually it helps it. In fact, I speak quite heavily about agile. The thing is with agile; it is a bit of a different animal; it really turns everything on its head. So if you look at a wonderful project, really it starts out with a plan and then you’re estimating the cost and the schedules. You’re saying, okay here’s my requirement, here’s my scope and then I’m saying, okay what’s this going to cost me to do and when can we get done? Agile literally turns that upside down. It says, okay here are the features that I like but what I’m going to do is I’m going to fix the cost and the schedule so I’m going to have a…here’s my release period or my sprints during a certain time period and now I’m going to estimate, these are the features that I think I can deliver within that schedule. So really, it’s a completely different animal that literally turns a waterfall model on its head.

But from a resource planning perspective, people say, okay well since we’re agile well does that mean we can’t plan resources? Well, with a lot of agile organizations, what I suggest is at least reserving your resources at a high level. Even if it’s at a sprint level, saying okay we’re going to reserve our resources, so you can get some kind of sense of demand because those projects consume resources too and if you’re not tracking that work at all, if those resources are isolated to a specific project, it’s not as much of an issue but if they’re shared with the rest of the organization or they’re doing other things, then you really need to at least keep track at a high level of what the resources are doing. I don’t think you need to get into detailed resource allocations like test level things because that would be a fruitless effort on an agile project but at least at a high level to be able to get a sense of demand and that way you can mix that demand in with waterfall projects or whatever other kind of projects are going on in the company.

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Can’t solve A Problem Without A Well Rounded Idea Of The Problem 0

Jim Benson is best known for his seminal work, Personal Kanban.  Our conversation tomorrow centers on his new work, Why Limit WIP: We are Drowning in Work (MemeMachine Series) (Volume 2). This is an excerpt from one of my favorite podcast (Related Podcast and Transcription:  Quality & Collaboration = Quallaboration

An excerpt from the past podcast:

Joe:  I like the way you said that: you supplied the visual aspect that maybe they didn’t have before, is that a fair assumption?

Jim:  Well, not only the visual aspect but the permission to do a few key things. One is the permission to effectively complain. Previously, they felt like, “OK, I have this complaint and I’m going to go talk to somebody about it but when I do they’re just going to say that’s nice, and send me back to my desk.” Now the reason that that was happening was the person they were complaining to was sending back to their desks with, “Go back to your desk and bring me back proof.” To the complainer, that felt like they were being written off. But to the person that they were complaining to, they’re like, “I can’t, I can’t solve your problem if I don’t have a well-rounded idea of what that problem is.

The visualization helped them do that, helped them make that argument. It also allowed them to make that argument in the first place. The other thing was permission and respect to make immediate changes on the floor.

So whether it’s visualized or not, if they get together with their team and they think that something is going to make things better, their solution doesn’t greatly disrupt the operations of the company. So, for example, they could not say, “We think a hot tub in the middle of this room would make things better.” They can say, “We think that if we rearrange how we are answering phones slightly, that might make things better.”

They can do the latter then the third better permission there is to help your friends. So before, when it was every man for himself, if somebody else ran into problems or if somebody else pulled a task or a client that somebody knew something about, they’re just like, “Oh, I hope they do a good job with that.” But now, we’re actively encouraging them to stand up, walk over, sit down and actually pair with them or even just offer a small advice to move that ticket along more quickly and make sure that that trouble ticket, when it’s resolved, doesn’t come back again.

Joe:  If someone was spending too long on the phone or was just struggling a little bit, they could kind of put a yellow light on, and someone would come over and help them?

Jim:  There is that but then also setting policies. So if you get a call and it’s something that you don’t know anything about, you have a couple of choices. One is you can find somebody who does and then bring them onto the call with you. The second is you can transfer it to somebody else. The third is you can say, “One of us will call you back.” End the call, go on to a call you can do something about and then add that call with notation back into the call queue so that somebody can pick it up next time who does have experience.

What tends to happen otherwise is, the person will sit on the phone for a very long time trying to slog through the problem while they’re sitting on the phone for two or three hours trying to slog through this problem while there’s a large number of five or ten minute calls that have all bounced off and become tickets that somebody needs to pull in the future that they could have solved during that.

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The Mysterious Q word 0

Qi…. It’s a word and a concept you may have already heard of – but maybe you don’t know much about it. What is Qi, really? Well – it’s a unique form of energy secretly hidden away within your body.  Let us introduce you to Gong. Combined, the word Qi Gong translates to ‘Life Energy Cultivation’, and is the act of harnessing and using this energy to achieve your body’s full potential. It’s practiced by millions around the world every day, and it’s beliefs have spawned many similar practices such as yoga, tai chi, chakras and acupuncture to name but a few. QI Gong

For some of you Qi Gong might not be a new idea, but for those of you discovering it for the first time, perhaps no one is better equipped to tell you about it than Lee Holden. Lee has hosted a number of hugely popular Qi Gong shows on PBS since 2005 and has become a household name in the process. I have teamed  up with Lee to give you access to 3 free video lessons that will show you how you can start practicing this ancient art straight away – no experience necessary. That’s the beauty of Qi Gong, anyone can do it! It’s called Qi 101 and you can access the lessons for free

Those who have seen Lee before will be happy to know he hasn’t lost his fun and easy approach to energy…  And those who haven’t will experience an easy and adjustable introduction to Qi Gong that can only be found as part of Lee’s new project – Modern Qi Gong.

“Lee has a gift to take something very complicated and to make it very simple and direct without losing the essence of it. I have tried Tai Chi and given up because it was too complicated and time-consuming. I feel that the way Lee teaches Qi Gong is practical, not complicated, and not time-consuming. I got pain relief within 2-3 days. The pain is gone; it’s amazing!”

Discover QiGong

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Is this the Future of Meditation? 0

Do you meditate? Or are you at least curious about how this ancient practice can help you? Yes? Well we have a gift you’re going to love from our friends at Mindvalley – one of the world’s biggest online personal growth publishers.  omlife

It’s a free meditation audio. But with a difference. Because you’ve NEVER heard anything like this before. The audio uses a next-generation sound technology called Omharmonics, Omharmonics is a revolutionary audio meditation product designed and developed after a year of devoted attention by Mindvalley and a team of world-class consciousness engineers. Powered with binaural beats, heartbeat synchronization and ambient sounds, Omharmonics stimulates your senses in a positive way and is scientifically proven to eliminate internal and external resistance to allow you to reach an optimal meditative zone in a matter of minutes!

The truth is, most of us struggle with meditation. Many of us can’t shake off mental chatter. We fall asleep. We get restless. We can’t find the time to practice. Omharmonics makes all these problems obsolete. Grab a pair of headphones, set aside a few minutes, and be the judge: Go here to download and listen to your free Omharmonics audio.

This audio could transform your meditation AND your life.

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Should Agile be used as Your Portfolio Manager? 0

A part 2 of yesterday’s blog postbased on this related podcast and transcription: Leffingwell on the Lean Agile Train. Dean Leffingwell is a consultant, entrepreneur, software executive and technical author who provides product strategy, business advisory services and enterprise-level agility coaching to large software enterprises.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: When we go into the portfolio management, should that be based on  Agile?

Dean Leffingwell: Well, there’s a question because it won’t start that way. First, I want to give credit where credit is due and not just pick on the PMO or the other PM guys that were trained. The PMO’s have built governance models around the waterfall life?cycle model because we taught them that was the way to write software. We have new ways that we’re writing software now, and we have to teach them those too. But in the meantime, their governance models and all of their activities are focused around the milestones and things like design reviews and test plan complete, requirement sign off, and code freezes before defect triage, we taught them all that stuff. We shouldn’t be surprised as agilists when we go to instill and install Agile and they’re saying, “That’s just great but you still have to meet the phase to exit gate which requires that the design is complete.”

Yet, if you go to those teams and say, “When will the design be complete on this project?” They’ll look you straight in the eye and say, “The day we take it out of maintenance.” Not in the phase two milestone review. There are a lot of legacy mindsets that are there, but they’re not there because we have people that think in legacy terms. They’re there because that’s what we taught them.

I think we have a responsibility to educate them with Lean thinking, and I have better luck looking at things like the way milestones… Let’s just say there’s a design review milestone on a program, and the program is late. I ask the PMO, I say, “Well if the program is late does the review move to the left or the right?” Meaning forward in time or later in time and they say, “Of course the review moves later.” I then comment to the fact that what you’re saying then is that the later the program is the less often we look at it, right?

They go, ” Well that’s not very Lean thinking.” Because that’s the opposite of what we should be doing and since we don’t know if for sure it’s late or right, why don’t we just do periodic review on a cadence and we’ll review maybe all the programs on the same cadence and look at whatever they’re doing. But if they’re not creating design specifications for us because they’re Agile, they’ll be creating code. Why don’t we assess the code? Let’s ask them for a few key measures around the code. Let’s ask the product managers or customers or whomever how it is they see that the see that the code is developing.

Let’s look at the facts. Let’s look at the quantitative objective facts of how the code is evolving. Because in Agile, there will be no excuse for not having code. While they may not have some of these other things that you’re used to seeing, they’ll have a test strategy. They may not have a test plan because to write down their test strategy into a plan, number one; they have a model that’s integral. It’s no longer separate activity. Number two, they only write down what they need to write down, and they’re not going to write that down just to give to somebody else. So, let’s just look at the code.

So when you approach the boundary of a PMO, the way I like to approach it is that your governance model got us here. The waterfall development got us here. We’re moving forward. We’re not just going to throw away governance, right? We still need oversight; we need to know how we’re spending our money.

We still need to drive the teams to the right vision and the right programs. That hasn’t changed. But the practices that we’re using have changed materially. So before I just make these milestones go away, let me give you some suggestions for new ones.

How about this; how about each program has a milestone review every 60 days and every 60 days we’re going to look at the current amount of working code, the current defect count, the current feedback from the customers and the current plans for distributing that piece or how it’s doing if it’s already distributed. Get their mind around assessing the actual use of the product or actually looking at the application rather than looking at their intermediate artifacts that we used to create, the code was all being done in parallel before we couldn’t really run much of it. All we had were these artifacts.

The code was so hard to change we had to try and get the requirements right, so one of those artifacts was our software specification. Well, we don’t do that anymore. We do have software requirements. They’re called user storage and acceptance criteria, but we write them just in time.

We want to make sure even though it can seem fairly pointed sometimes, and sometimes the PMO has looked at the mother?ship of all impediments, I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as one of the elements of the enterprise that’s going to be transformed as well. There again, you’ve got to go in with different tools.

They can think Lean; they don’t care about a daily stand up or how a Scrum team works. That’s not part of what they do. So taking them, teaching them Scrum it’s kind of an interesting experiment, but they don’t do Scrum. You got to speak in their terms, and that’s basically the business economics, how Agile and Lean thinking drives business economics and the principles.

Again, some of the principles of product development flow that I like to lean on Reinertsen’s work for that they can use to help improve the overall enterprise performance.

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