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Configuration Management Tales #1

Kim Robertson is the author of over 100 discipline specific training packages, 3 fiction books and articles for CM Trends and various other trade publications from industrial arts to Configuration Management. His latest collaboration Configuration Management: Theory, Practice, and Application is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Contact Kim through LinkedIn or Kim.Robertsonatvaluetransformdotcom.Kim Robertson

His interests in education and training development started in his teens. He is a NDIA certified Configuration Manager with degrees from Westminster College in Mathematics and Physical Sciences and a Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in Organizational Management with a sub-specialty of Government Contracts.

I enjoyed Kim’s storytelling so much that I left the time get out of hand. As a result, Kim talked himself in to a two part episode. The 2nd part will post next week.

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Help! Do You Know Anything about the 4P Process?

I have been doing some project work in Scorecarding and Dashboarding lately and ran across the term the 4P Cycle in Gupta’s book, Six Sigma Business Scorecard. $P Cycle

The 4P Cycle consist of

  1. Prepare represents ensuring good inputs to the process, The inputs consist of Ishikawa’s 4Ms (material, machines, methods, and manpower or people). The objective is to ensure these four Ms are received well as inputs to ensure the process output will be on target.
  2. Perform implies the process steps are well defined, and understood for effective and consistent execution.
  3. Perfect means assessing the performance against the established target performance. If the process output is not on target, the gap is assessed.
  4. Progress leads to reducing variability or the gap around the target, and striving toward the targeted performance.

By continually applying the 4P cycle, one can reengineer process to achieve the results desired by the customer through better process management, instead of increased inspection.

My understanding is that it is the method to Perform an Opportunity Analysis of a project or undertaking like PDCA or Six Sigma. Of course to a Six Sigma person it may make perfect sense. To a Lean person that thinks continuous improvement is continuous ( we know that is not exactly true) it seems a little out of sync.

Either way, I found it fascinating but have found little reference to it in other literature. In fact, Gupta I feel leaves me hanging a little on the 4P Cycle and was interested if anyone could reference it in other work or shed some light on their understanding or use of it.

Data: Your Nearest Neighbor is Nano-Seconds

Kim Robertson started his first company at the age of 18 and has an extensive background spanning forty years in all aspects of business and aerospace. He is the author of over 100 discipline specific training packages, 3 fiction books and articles for CM Trends and various other trade publications from industrial arts to Configuration Management. His latest collaboration Configuration Management: Theory, Practice, and Application is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Configure ManagementContact Kim through LinkedIn or Kim.Robertsonatvaluetransformdotcom.

Kim is the guest on the Business901 podcast tomorrow.

Joe: A lot of people want to control their own data. They want control of it. They’re generating it, and can they have ownership. Is that ever really going to be feasible?

Kim:   It depends on how you define that thing that you’re trying to control. I’ll give you an example. I have intellectual property that I feel is mine which may be photographs of family; it may be the types of things that you would share with people on your Christmas card and that sort of thing. If you are putting that information on Facebook for example, I believe a clause is still in the Facebook use agreement that as soon as you post something, Facebook can use that information anyway they want to including sell it to somebody else. So once you do that and sign up for that agreement, you have lost control of your personal IP. When it comes to things like patented technologies and trademark type technologies, countries have different ways of looking at it. For example, some companies say, we don’t care who built this IC chip; we’ll give a patent to every new application for it. So if you originally built it for a cell phone and now all of a sudden somebody has it saying, oh we’ll use that same technology for your garage door opener so you can open your garage from your cell phone; that would be two patents.

Once we get to some sort of international standard for what that IP means worldwide, it’s going to be a lot easier to protect it. Right now, you’ll find it’s kind of anybody’s game but it has been for years. Back in antiquity, for example, intellectual property and data encryption took different forms. There is historical records of this fellow who wanted to get information about a city out to the people that were going to invade the city, and so he had some trusted servants and he shaved their heads and he tattooed the instructions on their heads, let their hard grow and sent them out. It was a very early form of IP security. In Sumner, they used to have little clay balls that they put tokens inside. In the token maybe here’s three measures of wheat, two measures of metal, and four measures of beer, and once those were put inside the clay ball and both people’s seals were put on it, that was a binding protected piece of IP until that clay ball was broken. You could say, oh okay, you’re Fred, you’ve worked for me a week, so you want me to pay you your metal and your wheat and your beer.

The idea, that all of this is new, is not true; it’s just become more critical as we reach the population densities that we have. It was much easier to control when your nearest neighbor was 20 miles away. Now that your nearest neighbor is nano-seconds away in the electronic world, it gets very hard to control. I don’t think we’re ever going to really get there. I think that we’re making great strides, but a lot of that is based on trust, and some of the problems we find is based upon different definitions of what IP really is. For example in the US, we say we patented this design wherever you use it. In Japan they say, we patented this usage of that design, whatever it is. So, of course, there’s going to be disconnects until we come to a common language.

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Two steps to Changing Culture

Larry Rubrich of WCM Associates LLC wrote one of the most straight forward books on Hoshin Kanri that I have seen: Policy Deployment & Lean Implementation Planning: 10 Step Roadmap to Successful Policy Deployment Using Lean as a System. I had a past podcast on Lean Construction with him,  An Overview of Lean Construction and could not resist diving into a few Hoshin type questions.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:  You talk again about changing culture. In any organization, it’s really tough. You just don’t wave a wand and change culture or make an edict that we’re changing culture today. Can you tell me how to do it, a short synopsis of it?

Larry: This is really a great question. The difficulty for most organizations, whether you’re talking about manufacturing, health care or construction and service, is nobody’s focused on culture. They let the culture develop on its own, unguided, and then they wonder why they have people in their organization with bad attitudes that don’t care about the organization. So ultimately, where you have to start with culture is you got to start with an understanding that organizational culture is a learned process and it’s developed by the organization in response to the working environment established by the organization’s leadership and management team. So what you have for culture is based on the reaction of everybody to the environment that’s been created by the leadership team.

So if you’re going to change that culture??and most organizations require culture change to support Lean??you have to do this in a couple steps. Ultimately, culture change takes a long time, but you can get it started by doing two things.

First, about the leadership team creating a values and behavioral expectation statement, a little pocket card that says, “This is how we will operate. These are our behavioral expectations, not only for the leadership team but for everybody in the organization.”

So creating these value statements and then, essentially, instituting them and enforcing them within the organization becomes a powerful part of getting that culture change. Obviously and ultimately, the leadership team has to be willing to follow those 100 percent.

So creating the values and behavioral expectations are the start of it. Now, for construction organizations, this can be a difficult flip because many construction organizations already have value statements. But they’re not being followed, and ultimately, they’re meaningless. So we have to re-institute them in some cases and give them some teeth.

When I say, “give them some teeth,” ultimately, for organizations that really change ??a reference: one organization, the leadership team agreed that you get two violations of the value statement, and you’re out of a job; you’re going to be terminated. So that can reinforce what needs to be done.

Once, you’ve created the values and behavioral expectations statements and we’ve got that within the organization, next you have to integrate the values and the Lean activities into associate performance evaluations, promotion opportunities, hiring, merit increases, bonus activity, and new?employee training. All have to be integrated with what you’re looking for from a Lean standpoint and your goals with Lean and also the value statements.

The first time in the organization that somebody gets promoted or rewarded and they’re not a 100?percent supporter of Lean activities, or they’re a violator of the value statement; your culture change is done. So those are very important activities to get started, and then all of that has to be followed up with communication, empowerment, and the teamwork part of creating a Lean culture.

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Conversations in Project Planning

Alan Mossman of The Change Business trained as an architect and worked for many years in management and organization development. He only returned to construction in 2000 building on his knowledge and understanding of collaboration, systems thinking, quality and lean. I asked Alan about the promised conversation cycle.

Related Podcast and transcription: A Lean Project Planner

Joe: One of the things that you mentioned in a very good PDF that you put out. I think it’s called “The Last Planner: Collaborative Short Term Production Planning,” is the promise conversation cycle. Can you explain to the audience what that is?

Alan: Think of a customer and a provider, or a potential provider. The customer makes a request to the potential provider. That request, in a well-run system, will initiate a conversation, a negotiation about the conditions of satisfaction of that request and the date by which those conditions of satisfaction ought to be met. As part of that conversation, the provider may need to go and talk to other suppliers of their own and have a similar conversation to this conversation that we are talking about.

If I’m the provider, I might need to go to my material’s supplier and say, “Can you supply?” Make a request and the material’s supplier then wants to clarify conditions of satisfaction, the delivery date and so on.

We get to a point where one of the three useful things can happen. The first is that I as a provider say, “Yes, I can do that.” The second is that I can say, “Yes; I can do that, provided you let me have the specification or the drawings or whatever it is that you want me to work with by this date.” There’s “yes,” “yes, if.”

The other useful response is “No; I can’t do it.” Because that’s a very clear signal to the customer that they’ve either got to change the deadline, they’ve got to change the conditions of satisfaction, or they’ve got to find somebody else who can do it. I’ve got early warning as a customer that something needs to shift.

But, let’s suppose I said, “Yes.” I then go ahead with production. I’ve made a promise, and now I set out to fulfill that promise. Once I’ve delivered on the promise, it’s important that I declare completion. When I’ve declared completion, it is a signal to the customer to show him or her that I have done what they wanted done. Hopefully, at the end of that process they will declare satisfaction.

Now, this promise cycle is completed entirely in language. There is a request, there is the negotiation, there is a promise, there is a declaration of completion, and a declaration of satisfaction or dissatisfaction as appropriate.

What is missing, in my view, in a lot of construction, is that because of the critical path method, there is not enough time spent on managing promises, managing commitments. It’s all coming from directives. You will do this. You will do that. So that the project manager is telling people what to do rather than ensuring that the people on the project understand what needs to be done, so that they are in a position to make offers and to make promises about what they will do.

The collaborative planning, collaborative programming, make ready, are foundations for Last Planners to make promises about the work that they will do next week, because they’ve got direct involvement in preparing the work to be done.

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