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Focused Performance 0

Jump start your 2015 business planning. Russell Martin & Associates has created The Focused Performance Bundle. The package includes everything you need to facilitate the planning sessions with your team. lou russell

Once you know where you want to go and where you don’t want to go in 2015, start brainstorming initiatives that will take you there.  It’s likely that each of these initiatives will generate multiple projects.  How do you pick which projects to do?  How do you prioritize the work over all four quarters of 2015 without adding so much project work that it’s impossible to focus on any of it?  Prioritization allows you to pick the projects you can charter utilizing a project sponsor and project manager who drive a project schedule for accountability.

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See What You Get (Ltd Time Offer).

Lou Russell is the CEO of Russell Martin & Associates and L+earn, an executive consultant, speaker, and author whose passion is to create growth in companies by guiding the growth of their people. In her speaking, training, and writing, Lou draws on 30 years of experience helping organizations achieve their full potential. She is committed to inspiring improvement in all three sides of what she has dubbed the Optimization Triangle: leadership, project management, and individual learning.

Lou was a great guest and I am sure you will enjoy the podcast.

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Forming a Quality Group 0

This is the last in series of interviews that I had with Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting. We have covered subjects from Trystoming to Value Stream Mapping.

A complete list:

One of the things Bob is most proud of and enjoys the most is the group of quality people that he collaborates with in his place of residence, Charlotte, NC. He discusses the start of this group and a few of the struggles they went through during the formation.

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Hoshin Kanri Overview 0

I asked Anthony Manos is a Catalyst with Profero, Inc. to give me a quick overview of Hoshin Kanri and his comments are below.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Using Hoshin Kanri

Anthony Manos:  Absolutely. I mentioned a couple of things like doing the pre-work, priming the pump of understanding what’s going on in the environmental stand, checking the different things out. Environmental scan, things like the economy, what’s going on socially?cultural, what’s going on with suppliers, competition. We just get the teams to go, “What do you think is going to happen over the next few years that might have an impact on you?” I’ll admit it, and this is one of those things that, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Obviously, when you’re trying to predict things, you’re never going to be perfect. But Joe, I remember, this is a few years ago, and when we were going through our planning session, someone mentioned, “Well, what happens if oil goes above $50 a barrel?” Of course, we had a laugh. It’s a good laugh now, but back then, we were wondering what would happen.

I think it’s very interesting, because from people’s different points of view of where they’re at, when you make a statement like that, “Well, what would happen when oil goes above $50 a barrel?” Back then, by the way, one of my initial thoughts was, “Wow, plastics costs might go up because of the oil.” But it’s very interesting.

Another team or group, when they were talking about what happens to things like gas prices, they mentioned, “Well, fewer people are going to drive.”

So, it’s very funny how, by putting these concepts out there, you can have different points of view and try to determine how it would affect your organization. Getting that stuff out in the beginning really helps. Of course, doing the standard things like a SWOT analysis, what I notice is a lot of people use SWOT, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but I don’t think they really know about how to go about to do it.

A couple of the tricks of the trade that we picked up over the years is, when you’re doing your strengths and weaknesses, which are supposed to be internal to the organization, one of the tools we’d use to help a company, especially if they’re new at this, is we used the Baldridge Award criteria categories. There’s leadership, planning, customer focus. There’s the measurement, analysis, knowledge management, human resource focus, process management, and results. So we do ask them, “What are your strengths and weaknesses in each of those areas?”

This just makes it easier for them to put something in a bucket. “Give us some strengths and weaknesses of your leadership. Give us strengths and weaknesses of your customer focus.” Companies don’t have to do it this way, but we’ve found that when you can give them a little structure to start out with, that really helps out a lot.

Then what we do is, with opportunities and threats, which should be external to the organization, we use a model like the Porter’s Five Forces, where they can look at things like suppliers, strengths and weaknesses of their suppliers, of substitutes that can people can replace your product or service with someone else’s, new entrants, buyers, and rivalries. Once again, it’s just a little bucket that they can put their opportunities and threats.

Joe, at this point, I want to mention that a lot of times, people just think the opposite of an opportunity is a threat, or a threat just flipped around becomes an opportunity. We really try to make sure that they understand that it’s not always that way. There are certain things that threats are a threat, an opportunity might be an opportunity. Once we get to that point, I think their brains are full, and they’re ready to go to the brainstorming portion of it.

Typically, we’ll start out with just a little statement like, “It’s five years in the future. You guys are tremendously successful. What does it look like, and how did you get there?” Then we just let them go to town, just let them brainstorm and come up with ideas. We just use a little Post-it Note method. They can write them up there, we throw them up on the wall. We get the team to go up there and make an Affinity diagram, start to group these things so they can see.

It’s like, “Wow! You see all these wild and crazy ideas. These are great ideas. This has really liberated us from doing the day?to?day things so that we can really think, ‘What’s that quantum leap? What’s that thing that’s really going to give us that breakthrough to move us forward?'”

Then from there, we do some other things, like a Gap analysis. Where are you guys at today in this category? Then, maybe, where would you like to be? Then another little tool that we use is drivers, means, and outcomes, so we just try to look at the categories.

Does A cause B, or does B cause A? Or does A drive B and B drive A? We try to determine if things are drivers, which means these are the things that will make things happen. The means, which is these are things that are the way to get it done, and then outcomes, like, these things are going to happen.

That really opens up people’s eyes to like, “Wow! What should we really start to focus on?” From there, we can start to put together their high-level plan. If companies want to use an X?Matrix or tree diagram, whatever it’s going to be, we help them put that together.

Then from there, they go into that term called “catch ball.” Catch ball is when they actually just pass it down to the other levels of the organization, to communicate, get buy-ins, get their plan set. They throw it back up, and there’s usually communication to it. “Yes. This is looking good,” or, “No. We’d like for you to take a look at this portion of it again.”

Based on the size of the organization, it might go down another level, and et cetera, et cetera. This is one of those ways that you get alignment within the organization. Anyone that’s a value?adder would actually see what their day-to-day task or job is, how it actually…

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What knowledge are you supposed to capture? 0

Do you capture everything?

Is everything a lesson learned?

How do you decide what you need to capture for the closeout?

I asked Mel Bost a Principal Consultant in BOT International’s PMO Practice who specializes in PMO best practices, project lessons learned, and program management those questions in a past podcast, Related Podcast and Transcription:  Learning in Project Management.

Mel:                 That’s a good question. I’m writing this book which is going to be out shortly. In my blog, I talk about this process in capturing and documenting lessons learned. Really, what I’m defining there is what I call significant events. A significant event is something where you may have a major deviation between expected result and actual result. That would probably be easy for a project manager to sit down with his project team and list 50 things that ought to be improved. I say take the top 5 or 10 where you’ve had a significant deviation between expected and actual result. Focus on those 5 or 10, if you’re able to do that, you’ve got the old 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the value to be gained is probably in the first five or six lessons learned significant events that you identify. The rest of them trail off very quickly, but there can be a lot of things.

If an organization has a robust risk management plan in place, they are 90 percent of the way toward having a lessons learned process. They’ve already defined some potential risks. If those risks get triggered in a project and they have a mitigation plan, they’ve already identified some significant events. The definition of risk and carrying that out for a project, having that risk identified, and if it’s triggered, if it’s significant and you’ve got a mitigation plan, that ought to go right at the top of the list of lessons learned. When you say how do you know, what do you need to capture all the knowledge? I’d say pick the top 5 or 10 lessons learned, something where you had a major deviation between expected and actual result.

Joe:                  My next question is how do you share that knowledge? How is that shared so that knowledge is made explicit to other people?

Mel:                 Different organizations have handled that in different ways. Certainly some of the larger organizations, we have, especially the large oil companies have put knowledge management systems into place. Even companies like Schlumberger, which is an oilfield service organization, they were one of the first companies to put together a knowledge management system where they actually go in and put it into a database. Depending on how sophisticated the organization is, I’ve even seen a couple instances in NASA where organizations have developed what they call a knowledge-based risk. In other words, they’re using their knowledge database to inform their risk managers of previous project problems before the initiate a new project. I think it’s up to, once again, the individual organization.

In the case of ConocoPhillips, when I worked there, one of the first things we tried to do was to have a breakfast forum among our project managers and invite some of the project managers who were just completing projects to talk about lessons learned. We videotaped those, and we put them into a SharePoint system, so anybody goes out and look at those. We promoted that to all our project managers, especially those who were going to initiate a new project that was similar to one that had just been completed. Today, we have a project server system out there from Microsoft project that incorporates a lot of that and allows capture of lessons learned.

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A Project Charter, You Gotta Be Kidding Me 0

I was thrilled to have Lou Russell  of RMA Associates as my guest next week on the podcast.  She is a project management guru who cut her teeth in Accelerated Learning. In fact, she wrote the book,The Accelerated Learning Fieldbook: Making the Instructional Process Fast, Flexible, and Fun. Tune in to find the connection.

An excerpt from the podcast on her thoughts about Project Charters:

Lou Russell: One of the other things I think is just mystifying to me is that everybody, when left to their own devices, will skip project charter, skip it completely, and just do a schedule, because we have software for that. But we really don’t have the software for project charters – I guess we have templates, but it’s not cool enough – it doesn’t have, like, software. So, that means it mustn’t matter. Well, the project charter defines why you’re spending money on this project instead of something else. It gives you the whole reason for being of the project, and you skip it and build a schedule that’s supposed to actually be right? How can it be right? You don’t even know what you’re doing. That makes me crazy. That’s one of my little blasphemous pet-peeves, sorry.

Joe: I think you hit a very good point, because when you read any project management book, though they are discussing scope and charter, you are sitting there just waiting to get started.

Lou: Let’s go. Let’s build stuff.

Joe: That’s the feeling you get. What I like about your Project Manager for Trainers, OK – I mean, I love that book, because it’s very much, “Do it!” You know, here’s a charter, but do it.

Lou: Given that you’ve had the proper conversations, so let’s put that on the table – given that you’ve managed to capture long enough to get the need – basically, the project charter should take less than 45 minutes – it’s a draft. It’s always a draft. There’s no way you can build a final project charter before you’ve started the project. You don’t know what’s going on. It’s going to evolve. It’s an organic, evolving thing, as is the plan, and if neither of those are evolving – I know someone right now is having cardiac arrest about this – “You’re supposed to control a project!” No, you can’t. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the business. Anyway, if it isn’t changing, then no one needs that project – you should be cancelling it right now.

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Is TWI a Strength-Based Approach? 0

When I think about Training within Industry (TWI), I think of a method of incremental training. You don’t go out and try to train everyone at once, but you work on Methos, Relationships and Instruction.  I asked Bob Petruska, the author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters, a question that eventually involved into looking at TWI as a Strength Based Approach.

Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting will be working his magic in his upcoming workshop at the 2014 Jacksonville AME Conference where you can participate and witness the Pizza Game.

Related Transcription: Ramblings of a Lean Practitioner

Joe: When you look at training individuals, then we talk about that lot that we have to train individuals and teach them about Lean. Is it so much training or is it just, like you just said, getting out of the way and leaving them try a few things and encouraging it?

Bob: Yeah, that’s interesting. The training has certainly evolved. What we think of is training or what I used to think of is training as you go to a class and you learn something and then maybe you use 5% of it, you know, and then you’ll forget 100% of it in 2 weeks, you know. So, training’s not effective unless you’re doing and I think learning by doing is a great way. And, what I encourage people to do is not only learn by doing but then teach other people. So, to put it this way, if I teach you something and I say “Okay. You can do this job now.” But, I’m going to ask you, Joe, I want you to train someone else.” That’s a whole other ball game. You’ve got to really raise your ability up to another level if you train another person.

I think it’s that helping relationship that we nurture by allowing people to train other people that really propels it and makes it stick because you really get a deeper understanding if you have to teach another person. I’m always on the lookout for those early adopters and people that really want to latch on and that want to carry the ball forward. Many times it’s often the person that is the least susceptible to the idea in the first place. They’re the ones that are kind of grumpy and saying “Well, that’ll never work.” I have people tell me “Bob, that’ll never work. We’ve tried that before.” I love people like that because I want to flip them because they become the biggest advocates of any improvement process.

Joe: I think of it when you’re talking that way is training within industry or TWI, is that because you don’t go out and try to train everyone at once, you actually get someone to master it and become your advocate and train more, you know, through the different programs of it. Is there any truth in that, I mean are you familiar with TWI?

Bob: I certainly am and I know there’s a component in there for the supervisor and we learn that that first-line supervisor is really key to any of these things. Again, we need to get ourselves in a position where we can step back and let other people shine. That’s not to say we can’t set them up for success. A big part of TWI is setting the person up for success because if a person is successful from the beginning they build confidence. You’re trying something new and we want you to be successful. On the other hand, we also want to correct your mistakes immediately and we do this in a non-confrontational manner. We just say, “Look, when you’re learning this, try it and see how it goes.” And then, come back and review. Watch them. If you see them making a mistake, correct them on the spot because they won’t take offense to it. They actually, “Oh, here let me show you how this is done. Wait let me show you again.” So, that they really can master it and once they demonstrate that they can do the job, then you’ve pretty well got it. So, I think TWI is brilliant and really it’s foundational.

Joe: Is TWI a strength-based approach?

Bob: I think so. I mean it’s not looking at deficits, is it?

Joe: No, it’s not at all. Is it?

Bob: It’s looking at best practice, right? It’s ‘let’s document’ the best practice that we know of. And then, let’s deliver it in a way that’s palatable for adult learners. You know, there’s a lot of people in the industry that have grown up teaching elementary students and that’s a totally different game than in adults. Adults don’t want to be treated like children, so we have to be really careful about how we approach them and TWI really fits the bill.

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Communities Just Don’t Happen Mind Map 0

I have gotten out of the habit making as many mind maps as I once did. It is probably because the amount of books that I now have on Kindle. My current tendency is to highlight and make electronic notes in the book itself. It has replaced the post-it-notes inside the books on my bookshelf. However, I recently was reading The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups that I not only littered in post-it-notes but had an outstanding chapter on communities that I could have just highlighted the whole chapter. Instead, I made the following mind map.


Download PDF: Communities Just Don’t Happen

I had first found the book as a result of researching work by Bill Baker on the Seven Norms of Collaboration. These are a set of tools to create productive communication:

  1. Pausing
  2. Paraphrasing
  3. Probing for Specificity
  4. Putting ideas on the table
  5. Paying attention to self and others
  6. Presuming positive intentions
  7. Pursuing a balance between advocacy and inquiry

My first thoughts about both of these items; “What a great set of sales tools!” 

What are yours?