Lean Engagement Team

Participation is the Platform 0

I ended my last blog post, What Happened to My Linear World, with the statement…

Reality was that the world had more influence on what I was doing, and I had less control. My planning became more frequent and less conclusive; I discovered I was no longer living in a linear world.

What should I do?

Is the answer to do less planning and more reacting? Today’s world has emerged with new thinking to compensate. Some of this thinking have been captured in the philosophies of the Outcome Based-Innovation, Design Thinking and Service Design. To a lesser degree Lean, the Maker Movement and the Lean StartupTM support this new thinking. These philosophies have taken the pulse of the present and moved decision making towards a customer-centered approach. They are more aligned with the customer and realize that their success does not rely on pushing product to a customer. Rather, understanding the customer’s “Job-To-Be-Done” and participating in what the customer needs to accomplish. This participation is the platform.

There are a lot of tools this has surfaced. Technology has greatly assisted this movement most notably with the ability to perform prototypes both online and offline. The digital world has led because of the ease of making changes based on the collection of data. However, the offline world is catching up with 3D printing and augmented reality schemes tumbling in price and expanding in use. Again, this supports participation within the platform.

The question really becomes do we still plan? With prototypes and trials so easy to use and inexpensive do we just throw out the planning and look for a reaction from the customer. Many see that as an alternative and segment out the early adaptors and willing participants. Other take it a step further and will try different trials or multiple segments to determine the best type of participation.

Escape from loop

A new set of tools have evolved to support this culture, no longer are we using linear tools that were used to measure and support well-defined end to end processes. Today’s world has introduced more and more uncertainty. As a result, it has forced us to get closer and closer to our customers reducing reaction and decision time. To do this, once again a new set of tools need to be utilized. This methodology has been introduced to us through the concepts of Design Thinking and as good as an overview that I have found is contained in the book, Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers (Columbia Business School Publishing)clip_image001.

This set of tools:

  1. Visualization: using imagery to envision possible future conditions
  2. Journey Mapping: assessing the existing experience through the customer’s eyes
  3. Value Chain Analysis: assessing the current value chain that supports the customer’s journey
  4. Mind Mapping: generating insights from exploration activities and using those to create design criteria
  5. Brainstorming: generating new alternatives to the existing business model
  6. Concept Development: assembling innovative elements into a coherent alternative solution that can be explored and evaluated
  7. Assumption Testing: isolating and testing the key assumptions that will drive success or failure of a concept
  8. Rapid Prototyping: expressing a new concept in a tangible form for exploration, testing, and refinement
  9. Customer Co-Creation: enrolling customers to participate in creating the solution that best meets their needs
  10. Learning Launch: creating an affordable experiment that lets customers experience the new solution over an extended period of time, so you can test key assumptions with market data

Along with these basic tools, I believe that Osterwalder’s Business Model Generationclip_image001[1] Template, Lean 3P, and Kanban are other integral parts. If you notice, these are all very visual tools based on participation in the platform, not in the corner office.

However, do I just use these tools and watch everything unfold?

Is there a planning instrument that works?

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An Outsiders View on a Lean Implementation 1

In this 2nd part of 2-part podcast, Bob Petruska, author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters, discusses what he has learned about  Sur-Seal Corporation. Bob Petruska

Bob is working with Mick Wilz, Director of Enterprise Excellence and Co-Owner of Sur-Seal Corporation, on one of the tracks, Keep Your Organization’s Chain Straight., at the upcoming ASQ Charlotte Conference on April 8th, 2014.

In part 1 of the podcast, How Sur-Seal Became a Visual Organization, I discussed with Mick, Sur-Seal’s Lean journey. In this 2nd part, I put Bob on the spot and asked him from an outside perspective (Bob is one of the best change agents, I know) to comment on what Sur-Seal had accomplished.  The insight Bob gives is excellent.

 

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Good Work is About Vocation, 0

One of the founding partners of Zingerman’s Community Businesses and the author of a number of articles and books on food and businesses, Ari Weinzweig commented on what it takes to lead an organization. An excerpt from the podcast is below. However, I encourage you to skip the blog post and review the entire transcription. 

Related Podcast and Transcription: The Aroma of a Good Vision – Ari Weinzweig


Ari Weinzweig:  Something that I realized as I was working on all this is that we really, I think, are creating a new way to work, or a new approach to work. Wendell Berry, who, I think is probably in his late seventies in Kentucky, is a fabulous writer about traditional American life and rural life, and very reflective and interesting. He wrote a piece about the difference between good work and bad work.

Good work really is about vocation, and about passion, and feeling good about what you do. I believe that that’s what we do. I believe when you live the natural laws of business; that’s what you create. Bad work is what most of the world knows, which is where you don’t really like what you do, but you tolerate it in order to make a living.

Not that that’s evil, but life is short, and it’s a whole lot of hours spent doing something you don’t really want to do. I believe that creating a new way to work is about creating a relationship to work that’s really positive, where people can be at work and enjoy themselves.

Feel nurtured, supported, and learn things that are of value in their life, and that they can move back and forth between what they do at home and what they do at work in a really relatively seamless way.

That is very different from the old model, which is exhausting and where people are burning out and not enjoying themselves, and that work is this onerous burden that you tolerate getting through to retirement or to the weekend. I don’t mean people shouldn’t take time off for retire, but I mean, it’s just creating a setting in which people are excited and enthusiastic about their work. We’re working with people; we’ve got 18?year?old bussers and, whatever. People who…it’s not like they’re coming here for a career, necessarily, but they can find a positive setting in which they feel honored and respected, in which they contribute positively to the organization. It’s a pretty cool thing.


Related Podcast and Transcription: The Aroma of a Good Vision – Ari Weinzweig

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Is Transparency with Suppliers Innovative? 0

Joseph Michelli book, The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW discussed the Zappos approach that Michelli breaks into five key elements:

  1. Serve a Perfect Fit—create bedrock company values
  2. Make it Effortlessly Swift—deliver a customer experience with ease
  3. Step into the Personal—connect with customers authentically
  4. S T R E T C H—grow people and products
  5. Play to Win—play hard, work harder

We discuss this in the related podcast and transcription that you can find at Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW. This excerpt talks about Zappos and their supply chain thinking.

Joe:  What’s always interested me in a company like Zappos, they’re a niche outfit. I mean you’ve got to want to buy shoes online. Not a lot of us do but practically buying anything online is becoming more accepted right now. But should other online companies try to mimic Zappos? Or what should they be taking away from your book?

Joseph Michelli:  Well, I think there is some mimicking to do. One of the biggest problems about online purchases is it’s a lot about drop shipping. So the margin advantage in that business is if I’m in a shoe area, I could get Clarks to ship out shoes from the Clarks warehouse. I don’t have to have inventory. I don’t have to control the supply chain. All I have to do is be the front?end receiver of the orders, and then that’s my function in the thing. So marketing my service and then being able to get you to use my service so that I’m a distributor of all this drop shipping. I think Zappos really understands that you don’t control the deliverable on the back side, and you don’t control the speed of delivery. You don’t control how the complaints are managed.

So to many ways I think they understand that you have to be a part of the entire service delivery chain within your brand. A lot of online companies could really learn from that because if you look at most of the complaints??I didn’t get my product; it’s not what I ordered??and what’s the company that fulfilled the order going to say?

I mean all they did was hit some keystrokes, and the breakdown was at another shop. So I think that getting more of your service delivery as part of your control in managing that supply chain is huge to the success of that industry.

Joe:  I think you look at Amazon and how they’ve taken prime and used it as a leverage point to bring more books under their control, even the used and now the libraries, that they are controlling the supply chain, even the used section of the supply chain.

Joseph Michelli:  Absolutely, and guilty as charged. I’m a prime member. So it definitely pulled me when I was not as actively involved in Amazon before.

Joe:  When I look at Zappos, I see a lot of similarities with Starbucks because they don’t necessarily pick all the suppliers. Or do they? I mean not anybody and everybody’s a Zappos supplier, are they?

Joseph Michelli:  No. I’ve worked with Starbucks and Zappos and I worked with the Ritz?Carlton, the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, and a lot of companies I’ve written books about. There are more similarities than differences when you get to greatness? There is no doubt about it. I’d say one of the strengths that Zappos has at Starbucks can continue to work toward is the fun element of the experience both for the user and for the employee. I think that Zappos brings a playful culture that you won’t see in most other businesses around the world. They don’t see the fun as an impediment to efficiency but as a source for people’s engagement. I think that’s a difference. But as far as the supplier relationships, I think most of them vet their suppliers very carefully. I think Zappos is fairly innovative in their transparency with the suppliers.

There’s not that adversarial relationship that says, "I’m not going to tell you how well your products are flying off my shelf as much as I can hide that because that will give me an advantage in negotiating with you in the future. I won’t pit suppliers against each other. I’ll give you a transparency on sell?through and real?time data so that you can help me figure out how to sell more of your products instead of me trying to get the advantage of you in the negotiation phase."

So, I think that it’s culture inside, it’s an understanding of the wants, needs and desires of those you serve and it’s having great processes. You put those three things in play, and you’re ready for the current environment of business, which is maybe different from the core of business success a generation of two ago.

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How Sur-Seal Became a Visual Organization 1

Mick Wilz, co-owner of Sur-Seal Corporation, began his own journey to personal and business excellence about five years ago by actively seeking a variety of tools to meet his needs and the needs of the business. He says, “My interest is to take tribal knowledge and make it visual and accessible to everyone.” Mick is the Director of Enterprise Excellence and Co-Owner of Sur-Seal Corporation. Mick Wilz

We talked about Mick’s journey in part one of the podcast. In the 2nd part of the podcast next week, I have Bob Petruska, author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters. talk about as a consultant how he might apply what he has learned from Mick to other organizations. Bob is phenomenal at leading change and his take on Mick’s journey was remarkable.

You can find both these guys on the same day and at the same place at the upcoming ASQ Charlotte Conference on April 8th, 2014. It will be held at the Harris Conference Center. Not that I am biased, but Bob and Mick’s track is called Keep Your Organization’s Chain Straight.

 

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Simplify or Elaborate the Message in Virtual Teams 0

A renowned expert in the fields of remote collaboration, global teams, and managing wide-scale organizational change, Nancy Settle-Murphy is a popular author of articles, white papers, ezines and booklets. I asked Nancy about one of my struggles:

Joe:  One of the struggles I always have is that when I communicate, I probably simplify things and do more of a sound bite than the normal person. I’m not one to write a long paragraph on something. When I do that virtually, sometimes it’s taken out of context, and I have to go back and clarify. No, I didn’t really mean that, I meant that. Do you need to over elaborate in your messages? I mean, can we just Twitterize everything, or do we need to write longer emails when we’re working virtually?

Related Podcast and Transcription: Working Virtually


Nanc Settle-Murphy:  That’s a good question. I think it depends first of all what cultures you’re working with. Some cultures and I’ll generalize here, let’s say German, Austrian, Swiss, and oftentimes those of us in the U.S.; we like, and we crave details. So, when writing emails and when speaking, you often need to be more explicit. But putting aside the cultural differences, when you work as a virtual team, whether you’re a team leader or a team participant, you do need to be achingly explicit to make sure I really got what you said, and gee, now that I think about it, I didn’t really understand what Joe said, and I have no avenue for which to ask Joe until maybe our next team meeting, or maybe if I’m lucky enough to get you at your desk if I call, which would be a very rare thing.

So you need to think in advance what information do people need, and if you’re working with a cross-cultural team, how do I make sure that when translated in and out of the local language, the message is clear? How do I give a message in such a way that the chances for misinterpretation or confusion are minimal, you don’t have another chance oftentimes?

The other point I wanted to make based on the example you gave is the power of paraphrasing. A virtual leader needs to be able to very quickly – and this is a skill that takes a lot of time to practice and to really hone – and that is I need to be able to translate what someone said. I don’t mean into another language. I mean to paraphrase to make sure that point that Cindy just said, or Jose just said to make sure that we all understand it in the same way while we’re in a real time conversation. If I believe that either due to an accent or due to someone saying something that really wasn’t quite clear, but I think I understand what they said, it’s up to the virtual team leader, or it could be up to any of the team participants, to say it in a different way and to validate that everyone understood that important point the same way.


Related Podcast and Transcription: Working Virtually

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You Need More Than a Set of Goals 0

Great Business Teams author Howard Guttman was a guest in a past Business901 podcast and though the podcast was supposed to be about his latest book Coach Yourself to Win. In the midst of it all we had a unique discussion about virtual teams when I asked:

Joe:  Many teams are not necessarily all in one place, did you go into how to work in a virtual environment?

Related Podcast and Transcription: Coaching Yourself


Howard Guttman:  Yes, absolutely, because, you’re right. In the world, we’re in today; it’s an asymmetric world, and there are a lot of people that you may be colleagues of, who you’ve never met. But what we do, is; if you think about, let’s say an organization or a team that works functionally versus dysfunctional, they’re essentially five areas that they need to get closure on.

One is; they need to be in agreement regarding strategy. The second is; they have to be able to translate that into business priorities. The third is; they have to have clarity regarding individual accountabilities. The fourth is; they need to be clear regarding ways of working; the protocols. And when I say that, I’m not talking about values. I’m saying, when issues come up, how do they escalate? How do they force closure?

When decisions come up, when are they unilateral, when are they consultative, when are they consensus? When communications occur, who’s in the loop? Who’s not? And then, finally, they have to get clarity on their business relationships; their interdependencies.

When we work with these global teams, what we’re really trying to do is get clarity around those five things. Essentially, where our focus is, is recognizing that, it’s more about the ways of working, the interdependencies, and the accountability that usually makes or breaks these teams.

Many times, companies are under the erroneous notion that if they’re clear regarding their goals, or their strategies; it should just work out. It’s a fallacy.


Related Podcast and Transcription: Coaching Yourself

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