Knowledge Management

Can Numbers be Creative, Can Numbers be Imaginative? 0

Author, ERIC SIEGEL, PhD, is the founder of Predictive Analytics World and Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics Times. Eric makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating.

Joe: When we look at this, data certainly plays a part but people would refute the fact that data can tell the future. I always use this Einstein quote "Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere.” Can numbers be creative, can numbers be imaginative?

Related Podcast and Transcription: Predicting with Analytics


Eric Siegel: That’s a great question; I would say yes because as I’ve mentioned earlier – the core method here is predictive modeling, academically known as machine learning. It is literally looking at data, the history of many transactions of how things turn out in the past in order to learn how to predict under new circumstances for a consumer who has a new profile and new history of behavior that’s never been seen before and to robustly be able to apply what’s been learned. That is you’ve actually not just discovered a pattern that shows up in this particular data set, but that actually holds in general. There is an art to that; it is amazing kinds of things that come out of it; it can’t be visualized ultimately by human thought process because computers can do things in a multidimensional way. It’s all about finding that model that looks at all the different factors about an individual, both demographic and behavioral, and consider them together in concert to come up with the best prediction for that individual. The means; the mechanism to do that is the model is the thing that predicts is the thing that’s learned or output from the predictive modeling process.

I would say yes, there’s definitely creativity, I devoted a chapter to how amazing the results ended up being as far as the IBM Watson computer that learns from Jeopardy, the TV quiz show Jeopardy, questions and how to answer new ones – that’s an amazing story. However, unlike that story, usually it’s not about accuracy, so you premise your question just now by saying, “some people say you can’t really predict very well,” the fact is in general, especially with human behavior and the weather for that matter; there’s a real limit to how far ahead and in what way we can accurately predict. It turns out that the use of this technology on all of these different operations and getting value from it does not hinge on the accuracy. Predicting better than guessing, often significantly better than guessing, is what makes the difference and what provides value in running mass operations more effective.


Related Podcast and Transcription: Predicting with Analytics

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

Standard Work at Starbucks 0

Joseph Michelli’s  Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products and Your People, is a lesson in strategic marketing that few books meant for that purpose can even come close. .

Related Podcast and Transcription: The Starbucks Way of Connecting to Customers

Joe: Do they have standards that they take the employees through. For example, every barista has to get out from behind the counter and walk among the people or anything like that?

Joseph Michelli: Absolutely! Not only sweep the cafe kind of thing for all the environmental factors, but they have these values walk that happens once a shift, and it rotates across the baristas and that values walk actually starts outside. It’s not just kind of doing the sweep inside the cafe, and it’s not that you immediately go and fix anything you just don’t remediate what you see. It’s a real ethnocentric look, Kind of a look that you might have if you’re a cultural anthropologist, and you’re walking into the environment and you’re just scanning for everything you see. You’re going to be looking at the nature of the interaction. You’ll be looking for dust on the top of something. It’s an attempt to walk from the customer’s view through the experience and then documents those things. The beauty of it is; you’re not tasked to actually fix everything yourself, you’re more likely to acknowledge that there are things. Whereas if your job is if you see it fix it, this is just kind of see it, observe it, identify it and then we’ll know to fix it when we have our first opportunity.

Joe: What comes to mind is… and I don’t know how Starbucks teaches it, so I have to ask the question? It is the ability to be able to see like an artist. How do you instill that in an employee?

Joseph Michelli: Well I mean first you have to have them want to see it. I mean car renters don’t care if their car is dirty. That’s why nobody washes their rent a car. I mean you have an ownership stake in something to want to see something. I think it starts long before you giving them tools to see and it goes back to the way you treat them early on and whether or not they want to follow you, if they want to join you in looking for things that will transform a customer experience. It starts there but beyond all those cultural foundational, orientation on boarding things I think that it gets down to putting them in a position where they’re expected to look. By putting them out there and say "Every shift, somebody’s going to look." Looking must be important, right? I mean in business where nobody seems to be looking at that kind of stuff, where there is dust and mold and mildew and grime and growing in corners and crannies. I walk in there and realize "Hey, we’re not supposed to be looking at that stuff; I have blinders to it just like the management does." I think by creating processes that cause you to be vigilant it sets a priority that is important. That’s what Lean’s all about in many ways I think it sets the priority for us to look for efficiencies and look for value, and we live by that. We dedicate ourselves to those systems so guess- what, efficiency and values are important to our business, "Hello".

Joe: I agree with you and to me I would think Starbucks has a very precise on boarding program when they bring someone on.

Joseph Michelli: Absolutely do! Some of it is the operational checklist, some of it specific OJTs skills developments, and certification that you’ve achieved those skill levels. Some of it is corporate rituals. If you come in and I just hired you Joe. You come in, and I just hired you to research Starbucks I’m going to sit down a cup of coffee with you before we do anything else. I’m going to ingrain the culture, so that you realize that before anything else it’s coffee. That what it’s about, it’s about sitting down and savoring a conversation over a cup of coffee that’s what we do. Before I can even get into all of how we do it, how we make that coffee, I need to make it really clear to you by my own actions that this is important. Then while you’re on-board in addition in teaching you skills, I have to make the perfect espresso shot. I’m also going to teach you about all the different growing regions where the origins of coffees come from, and you’re going to go through a coffee passport where you’re going to taste coffees from all over the world. You’re going to write your own notes and observations about their flavour profile, and that is bringing you up to speed to understand that is not enough to shove a cup in someone’s face. You best understand where the coffee came from, the nuances of that coffee and what that flavour indicates about that customer’s life. I think that’s how you bring people on; you get them excited, you get them inside of the fold. They’re no longer coffee preparers; they’re creating experiences that uplift to the coffee, to the conversation, to the physical environment which they bring customers.

Related Podcast and Transcription: The Starbucks Way of Connecting to Customers

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

Your Internal Collaborative Structure 0

As the pace and complexity of business has grown traditional organization structures have been flattened through near constant reorganizations. The need for specialization within certain functions seems to prevent further reconciliation. Empowerment within business units and departments to make decisions within their scope of activities has increased, however, we often bump into "sub-optimizing the whole" if healthy interactions between units are not encouraged.

The latest thinking in business improvements has unleashed a new dictum for Clarity, Focus, Discipline and Engagement. These are all valiant efforts, but the continued focus is on process improvements through a typical hierarchal approach can limit growth. What seems to be missing is the requisite training and techniques for improvements to be implemented across functional silos versus up and down the leadership chain.

Organizations are often structured in a hierarchy, but do people actually work that way? Most people dare not work across departmental boundaries and silos, but where do most breakdowns occur? Reorganizations can help by creating a more generalist skill set which reduces the need for specialists. This paradoxically inhibits the growth of an organization because growth still requires specialized skills. How do you get the best of both worlds (a flat organization with sustained growth)?

It takes a unique approach when there is no existing hierarchy or understanding of each other’s specialization. Specialists are not often accustomed to working with others outside of their functional silo. In fact, the more specialization, the more siloed the department. This takes a unique method that mixes cross-functional problems into collaborative training efforts. This situation is better suited to a "learning by doing approach" and is best driven from a strength-based learning perspective that reduces or eliminates the typical buy-in and finger pointing issues associated with cross functional efforts.

When most people think of change, they think of something that directly affects them, or something that affects those around them. In both cases, change is perceived as a negative! It turns out that change itself is seldom addressed from a positive or strength based approach. Developing a positive skills framework through active participation will address change through the growth of soft skills for both individuals and teams.

"Collaboration" is an expression being tossed around the corporate environment just as "Agile" was a decade ago. There are few companies that have taken the step to develop a collaborative structure internally. Seeking collaborative efforts with customers brings additional cross-functional deficiencies to the surface. As the saying goes, a customer experience mimics an employee experience.

This blog post was co-authored by Bob Petruska, author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence and Joe Dager  It was from a discussion on how to harness the knowledge and the involvement of the people working in different departments on existing topics. It is “On-The-Job-Collaboration”. Contact Bob at BobPertuska.com or me to find out more about this unique approach and how it could strengthen your organization.

You can also find Bob at the upcoming ASQ Charlotte Conference on April 8th, 2014. It will be held at the Harris Conference Center. Bob’s track is called Keep Your Organization’s Chain Straight.

Can Lean Accounting help Drive Market Share? 0

One of the true experts in the Lean Accounting world is Jim Huntzinger. He has over twenty years experience developing Lean enterprises through system design and development, implementation, and guiding organizations both strategically and tactically through the transformation process. He is Founder and President of Lean Frontiers.

Entire Transcription and Podcast: Leading with Lean Accounting

Joe:  Does the Lean accounting process empower the company to help to drive market share or increase revenues?

Jim Huntzinger:  Absolutely. I think again; it comes back down to a couple of things. One is again, understanding what your real costs are so, again, understanding what the value proposition is, understanding what the market will bear from a price standpoint, then trying to align yourself. I mean you’re trying to align yourself to what that is, you know it’s, you’re not going to have much luck trying to align the market to what you would like it to be, aligning yourself to that. So when you know that, and you know what your internal costs are or if you’re developing a new product, you know what your internal costs need to be, then that could give you much better information that again internally from your accounting people to your marketing people on, “This is where we need to be at.”

Again, information flowing both ways. Hopefully marketing people are understanding what the market wants, what the market desires in price, in features, in product and are giving that feedback into you know the developing engineers, the accountants, the operational people, so they’re; they have good information; they can align the organization to present out a good value proposition to the customer.

That’s a loop that needs to work both ways and again, both those people in the organization give; I don’t say they have to be intimate with what each other’s doing, but have an understanding of what each other’s doing and what each other needs and then you just get a much better flow of information from an accuracy standpoint as well as with just from a need standpoint. What information, as marketing people, what information do we need to be supplying back into operations, into product development, into accounting.

They have the information they can use to develop what they need to and then vice versa. You know accounting, working with product development, working with operations. What information do we have at this point that we can feed back to marketing so they can take that information back out on the market and get some reasonable feedback from it?

Entire Transcription and Podcast: Leading with Lean Accounting

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

The Power of 3: QFD, Taguchi, TRIZ 1

Dr. John Terninko has integrated his diverse experience base (electrical engineering, operations research, organizational development, teaching, continuing education and management consultation) to develop a unique intervention style for organizations. He has been teaching and using TjohnellendaveRIZ for 13 years. Consistent with his professional life of being on the cutting edge in QFD and Taguchi for 23 and 27 years, respectively, John has integrated TRIZ, QFD and Taguchi in his approach to design problems.

I can honestly say that John’s Step-by-Step QFD: Customer-Driven Product Design, Second Edition book, besides being on Amazon.com’s top 50 Management book list, is the “raggiest” book on my bookshelf.  His Systematic Innovation: An Introduction to TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) (APICS Series on Resource Management) is being used by universities and industry for training. John has been advocating getting out of the office and seeing customer for over thirty years. It was my honor to have him on the podcast.

Business901 iTunes Store.

Mobile Version

Android APP

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Marketing with Lean Book Series

Building Habit Forming Products 0

Nir Eyal distilled years of research, consulting and practical experience to write Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products. He founded and sold two technology companies and taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing appears in the HBR, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe Dager: How does this blend with Lean startup?

Nir Eyal: That’s a great question. I’m a big fan of Lean StartupTM, and I think that what I seek to do in my processes is to help makers overcome what I struggled with. That was one of the three phases of the Lean Startup, the three steps as proposed by Eric Ries, of build, measure, learn, the hardest phase, the place where all the blood, sweat, tears, and of course all the money went, was the building phase. That’s the hard part. So my work really fits hand and glove because it seeks to help product makers identify what they should build. A few years ago what we should build was determined by the highest paid person in the room. If you’re really progressive today, you’ve heard the Lean Startup methodology, and you listen to customers – the customer development and hearing what customers want.

I think there is actually a deeper layer. There are things that people want that they’re not able to articulate and yet predictably will guide their behavior even if it they can’t tell you they want it. I believe by looking at consumer psychology, by looking at these tenants, these design patterns of habit-forming products, we can build the right thing sooner. We can reduce waste by informing which of our many features we build. The entire point of the hook model is to plug in to the build, measure, learn methodology. To have a little bit of a framework, to have these four steps to ask yourself if your product requires habits, does it have these four steps and how can you brainstorm new features based on where you might be lacking. So the book is really meant to be super practical. I give these, “Here’s what you do.” I call these little sections at the end of each chapter, “Do this now,” to help product makers literally with the next step. It’s all about creating ideas for new features. What else can do to your product to make it more habit-forming? But it all still fits into the Lean Startup methodology of building, measure, learn.

Download MP3

Business901 iTunes Store.

Mobile Version

Android APP

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Marketing with Lean Book Series

Using Scenario Thinking 0

Scenario Thinking is an art form, methodology, or discipline that I believe is as important to master as any tool that we have in our toolbox. When we are looking at different alternatives to the future, we use scenarios to paint that picture. I addressed that question with George Wright, the co-author of Scenario Thinking: Practical Approaches to the Future. His response:

George: Yes, the scenarios are descriptions of the future often constructed by management teams. They usually rough out about four scenarios of the future. They are all qualitative. Their absolutely, pictures of the way the future might be. They are casually linked components in the scenarios. For instance, we are not planning scenario for Martians landing from outer space with ray guns and shooting us. The scenario tends to be many more logical steps from now into the future may be 10, 15, 20, 30 years. Hence, the scenarios are portal pen pictures of the future that are plausible to the people who constructed them. People say, “I can see this series of events starting to happen.” You can go out in that way like dominos swarming in one direction or you can go out in a different way. If they are all plausible futures, than they are futures we need to be concerned with, without occurring major investments.

Scenario thinking is an approach that first started out with capture intensive industries like the airlines, the oil industry where major investment has to be made now. It has to work well against a range of futures. That’s the scenario approach, getting these robust decisions that work well no matter what.

Joe: When done correctly you’re actually building a path, and you can see the path developing and heading towards maybe a certain scenario.

George: If you’ve done this scenario thinking and thought about a different range of futures that you say with a path leading to each of our futures. You become sensitive to the early indicators that a particular future is starting to unfold. So for instance if you, say just spotted a new car, say a BMW with three series might be, and you thought of about buying that car, you would be sensitive to different styles of that car on the road, different levels of kits and different wheels, different types of paint work etc. Let’s just say with that scenario you want to construct a scenario and thought about it. You’re sensitive to the early; I called, trigger event in the scenarios starting to happen. So if you thought about the scenario you become sort of ready early to anticipate a future that maybe favorable or unfavorable say to your business.

You can read the entire transcription (or listen to the podcast): Using Scenario Thinking in Change Management

George is currently Professor of Management at Durham Business School, University of Durham, UK. He has consulted and provided management development programs on scenario thinking and decision making with organizations such as Bayer, EADS, Petronas, Scottish Power, Thales, United Utilities, and national and local government in the UK.