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A Clinic on Innovation Practices 0

The 300th Business901 Podcast 

The Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation founding and current administrative director,  Barbara Spurrier MHA, is my guest this week on the Business901 podcast.  She has advised senior leaders in the health care industry for over two decades, serving as a champion for innovation in large, complex environments. barbaraspurrier She just recently co-authored an outstanding book on innovation, Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast: A Blueprint for Transformation from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.

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Make Your Company Indispensable Mind Map 0

A few years ago Joe Calloway wrote a book, Indispensable: How To Become The Company That Your Customers Can’t Live Without, that intrigued me. I made a mind map of the process and still take a few nuggets from it each time I review it.  The best reminder in the entire map is one of those Obvious Overlooked items; You had me at hello. I always wondered how many deals I have lost when I did not know when it was time to keep quiet.


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Can You Make Online Collaboration Easy? 0

Next Weeks podcast guest, Dana Sednek Bowler specializes in eLearning, virtual meetings/collaboration, project management, analytics tools & strategies, and leadership facilitation. She puts these skills to work at Interaction Associates as the online learning manager. Dana Bowler

An excerpt from next week’s podcast:

Joe: What do you think makes online collaboration difficult, or isn’t it? Should it be second nature to us, but I don’t think that it is. I think people struggle there a little bit. Why is that?

Dana:  I actually think our own human nature is what tends to make us challenged in the face of online collaboration because we try to apply the same principles of how you do it face-to-face in an online environment. We try so hard to be like, “Whoa, this is what I would do if everybody was in a conference room together, so let’s replicate that when we do it online.” We forget that there’s all of these really great tools and techniques that you can use in an online environment that you don’t actually have available to you in the face-to-face world, so you miss out on that opportunity to be able to have a collective conversation with 125 people, all at the same time.

That’s available and doable in an online space, but you can never get that done in a face-to-face space unless you’ve got four hours to kill, right? I think that’s the challenge, because we don’t know what we don’t know, and we forget that there’s all of these other tools out there that can helps, kind of, leverage this next generation way of working with one another.

Joe: Could you give me a couple of examples of those tools?

Dana: One that I just mentioned is all about the chat. Being able to frame a question that everybody can answer and respond to. I love to use focused question on top of a chat to get everybody’s answers or responses coming.

Then I like to use a third tool at the same time, like a virtual whiteboard where I can collect or start to throw up onto the virtual whiteboard wall some of the themes that I am seeing throughout the chat that’s coming in. All of a sudden, I’ve gotten everybody’s voice heard. Everybody has the ability to type in something, and then I’m able to pack up all of the comments or insights into some key themes that I’m hearing in a meeting, for example. Then I look at the whiteboard and I see – OK, so it looks like we’ve got three or four themes that are running throughout this conversation.

Once we do that, then we can use another tool like, either a poll or a pointer tool to say – OK, now let’s prioritize. Now that we’ve got these three themes that are important to us, or these five themes that are important to us; now let’s vote. Which one do you feel is the most important or relevant to the work we’re doing today. So, then you crowd source this ability to prioritize the focus for the meeting, and you’re getting feedback on where the energy in the room is, or where the energy of the content is located – and that’s really helpful. It is to say that there’s a whole lot of tools out there, but it’s more important to know how to use the tools to get at what it is that you want to achieve with your meetings.

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Project Managing Flash-Mobs 0

The Optimization Triangle: leadership, project management, and individual learning is how Lou Russell  views the type of  work she does at Russell Martin & Associates.  I enjoy her project management books (I own 3 of them) and her Accelerated Learning Workbook (yes, I have that one) and recommend them. She recently sent me a leadership book that I have in my to read pile. I am really intrigued to read the final leg of the stool.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Leadership, Projects, Learning

In our recent podcast, I asked Lou about her project management books.

Lou Russell: Let me do the disclaimer – we are PMI education providers, so we are completely and fully aligned to the project management body of knowledge – OK, there we go, that’s done – but it’s too much. I used to teach IT project management when dinosaurs roamed up 69, but mostly for IT people, and we kind of got in this space of teaching project management in the last five years to people who never meant to be project managers, and they don’t know what happened. Like, how did they end up being project managers, and everyone is doing projects now, because we’re all multi-tasking so much.

That’s kind of interesting – we describe projects nowadays as flash-mobs. The flash-mob people come together through some kind of virtual communication for a very specific purpose. They arrive, they converge in, they do a thing, and then they fade out divergent to the crowd. This is exactly how we’re running projects in large companies and all companies right now. You converge for a one-hour meeting, you pick up and you go to your next one-hour meeting. It’s very frustrating, and nobody is getting anything done. What if we step back from that and say, “Hey, if we were creating a project management process, Lean, let’s say, for flash-mobs what it would look like. I like that metaphor to help, now we’re talking about simplifying minimal. We have been in that space – that’s worked out really well for us. “Bad news early is good news,” is one of our mantras. You seek to communicate, because that’s the only thing that will save you. Don’t seek to control or you’re dead. There’s no control. There’s no ego, or your project is dead.

Last week, I was speaking at Project World in Seattle, and I was doing a project scheduling lab – and people were supposed to be bringing in their project and normal stuff – and all of a sudden, in come these eight people, and they’re all from Boeing, and they’re all PMPs, and they’re all in IT, and they’re all building some innovative aircraft, you know what I mean? I said, “Here’s what we’re going to do – I’m going to sit down and you’re going to teach me scheduling.” I was completely intimidated, I was like – you guys are you kidding me – and they go, “No. We need to hear this. We need to simplify.”

We have new traction in IT of all places, where the most complex is complex, and nothing is getting done. So, there’s interest there. The other big push in project management right now is – how do we train executives to sponsor well? What an excellent question that is. Right?

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Do You Push Your Sales People into the Unknown? 0

One of the mistakes, I think, that sales people have is thinking that they have to have answers. My thought is that I would rather have a salesperson that pulls my organization into the unknown. If that happens, we are asking the right questions.

Mario Andretti: “If everything’s under control, you’re going to slow.”

You could argue that by doing this you would never be selling your product, or extending the close of a sale. The truth is when you ask questions that stretch the customers thinking, many find ways to make your product/service work for them in better ways. They place their own limitations not around the product/service but rather around themselves.

Another advantage to this type of thinking is that you typically will bring others into the conversation. You engage with different parts of your customer’s organization, your own and even other vendors from both parties. This type of collaboration strengthens the opportunity.

For collaboration, co-creation and all those other “co-“ words that we like to banter about, if we are unwilling to step into the unknown, I don’t really see the opportunity? Do you?

Liz Wiseman, author of Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, says leaders must remain inquisitive, be able to ask the right questions and share the burden of thinking with their teams. She adds that the best leaders also push people out of their comfort zone, catalyzing a culture of contribution and innovation.

Significant Improvements Without Standard Work? 0

I was intrigued by Mark Hamel, author of  Kaizen Event Fieldbook: Foundation, Framework, and Standard Work for Effective Events that so much of his book is spent on Standard Work. Below is how he answered that question.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean Business System

Mark Hamel:  I think back to when I started learning from a Lean Sensei and that was 1994, ’95. I just remember sitting at his elbow, following him everywhere, listening to everything he said, and jotting stuff down. I had a ton of notes. And I thought, “I’ve been through a few Kaizen events now, I think I know how to do this.” Right, that was really off. Then I go in the next Kaizen event with my Sensei and I’m like, “Oh, I thought that step two was this.” I found pretty quickly that it’s a lot deeper than that. There’s definitely underlying principles that you always need to maintain and sustain. There is standard work, but at the same time, it’s kind of a loose type fit, although there are some things that you definitely can’t mess up on.

So, for example, definitely your Kaizen events need to be pulled, right? You can’t just be pushing them on folks. The old tool?driven Kaizen, they have to matter and they should be tied. Like I said before, diametric analysis or A?tree or process improvement plans, or whatever, there needs to be a context there.

You need to pre-plan, easy for me to say, properly. So we talked about team selection and we talked about scope and targets and so on and so forth. We talk about logistics, communication, which people end up messing up time and time again. Just think in terms of, “Hey, the more effective people are the more intense, the more frequent, and the more personal the communication needs to be.”

One of the major things I talk about in the book from a lean leaders perspective, they should be doing the change management thing. There are some great models out there like Kotter’s model of change management that we seem to just kind of forget. Maybe because it’s so simple, we just kind of blow it off, I don’t know.

But now we get into the actual Kaizen event and we’re talking about things like kick?off meetings. We’re talking about a healthy alignment team leader meetings, plus delta analyses. Very quick things each morning to really find out what’s working well for the team and what could be improved relative to work strategy and communication and things like that.

And then there’s a kind of storyline that’s inherent in the Kaizen event itself that follows that kind of plan, do, check, act. And if we process and if we get off of it, we’re really at risk of cause jumping, of implementing unnecessary stuff. It would definitely be in the category of waste or muda. So we’re training people how to think from a plan, do, check, act perspective as well as introducing them to standardize, do, check, act.

We expect to make significant improvements at a Kaizen Event, but we’re also trying to engage and develop the workforce at the same time.

For us to kind of bastardize the process by not following standard work that we should be following in a Kaizen event, we’re teaching them incorrectly. We’re teaching them bad habits. When we try to get to that daily Kaizen type of phase in our organization, it’s going to be really hard.

There are things that we need to follow. And there are certain tools for direct observation. There’s not observation forms really, spaghetti charts, the application of effect diagrams and histograms and things like that. We’re not super prescriptive: “Here’s a checklist you’re going to do A, B, C, D, E. You’re going to do these forms for this one and this in every Kaizen event.” They’re different. Sometimes you’re going to do process mapping to get an understanding of the current reality, so on and so forth.

I really wanted people to understand what that standard work is and what it means. It also gets into things like work strategy. This book is largely written for those people in the Kaizen Promotion Office. Those people who help facilitate this process, as well as Lean leaders; they need to understand how important this is to moving up that curve from a tool driven to a system driven to a principle-driven Kaizen culture.

Lastly, is the follow?ups piece. We have to have rigor on that and if we get sloppy, we end up wasting our time, unfortunately.

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Are Your Executives Using Machine Thinking? 0

The co-author of The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement: Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence to Achieve Superior Performance. James Franz,  answered a question of mine around how executives are trained in their thinking.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Toyota’s Continuous Improvement

Joe: Is this what you mean by machine thinking that’s attractive to a lot of executives?

Jim Franz: Yes. It’s one of our biggest challenges we’re going up against the entire “B-school” world out there. Steve Spear, I thought, talked about it very well in Chasing the Rabbit where he talks about all of our leadership now tends to come out of business schools. Who are taught to think in terms of transactions. “Where do I put the factory? Is this a make or is this a buy?” You do some accumulation of data and then bang! You make a decision!

That’s what makes a really good strong leader, is you can make quick, decisive decisions, et cetera. We support that kind of firefighter, chainsaw, Al Dunlap kind of thing, but the company and business isn’t a machine. It’s not something you walk up with a big honking wrench and crank on the bolt two times clockwise and suddenly your productivity goes up six percent. We don’t all show up in the morning, plug our brains in, and get our updated downloaded software telling us how to do our work.

When you think about the business as a machine, you think that there are some types of solutions. You’ll bring in technicians ?? how about consultants from the outside, to tweak the machine, to play with the source code. Ignoring the fact that your business is populated with people, and those people need to be developed into problem solvers to help the business achieve its goals. You totally miss that way of thinking when you get caught in this machine?head type scenario.

It is attractive, because you can think of things ?? well, like Lean ?? in terms of, “This is a project, how about a war on waste?” That’s attractive ?? that’ll look good on a banner when you come in the front door. “We’re engaged in a war on waste!”

Well, what do you do in a war? You gather all your troops, the generals plot the strategy. You unleash your strategy; you have this big huge war. Then the war is over, you declare victory, you send all the troops home and you demobilize. This is really the exact opposite of what we’re talking about, when you start talking about continuous improvement by developing your team’s problem solvers.

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