Gettng your Workforce Engaged in Problem Solving 0

In one of my most popular podcasts (Related Podcast and Transcription: A3 Problem Solving) of all time, Tracey Richardson talked about Problem Solving and A3s. However, I have always thought like most things, it is not about the tools and methods, it is about the people.

An excerpt from the podcast:  

Joe Dager:  How do you really get a work force engaged in problem-solving? I think about going out there to the line, do they really want to be engaged in it, or do they just want to go in there, get done with their job and go home?

Tracey Richardson:  Well, I think there’s a combination of both, and I think a lot of it is leadership setting the example. If leadership doesn’t come down on the floor, and they stay in their office, so to speak, and there’s no interaction or engagement and those questions aren’t being asked on a daily basis, then, sure, I think you’re going to have more of a lackadaisical work force that does just want to do their eight-ten hours and go home. I think it starts with leadership setting the expectation very high that we do have standards. When we are below standards, “What’s the expectation of me, at that point?” The leaders have to ask the right questions. It’s also good if you visualize your problems in the workplace.

For me, in my experience at Toyota, we had the visual board. Some folks call them the scoreboards. We were always able to see where we are, in regards to the company standard: the expectation of where we should be. When we weren’t, we had things like, quality circles that allowed our member engagement at the floor level, to be able to get involved and make change.

That’s a way to engage the workforce: suggestion system. We do have kaizen events, or what we call, “Jishuken,” which is a problem-solving event. I think, it’s up to leadership to really set the example, and set those expectations high for that work force to have, when the manager comes down and they’re doing their ‘go?and?see’ on that daily basis, and sometimes hourly basis, in some ways, that the expectation is there to always, “Where am I, in regard to the standard?”

Ask those questions, because, as a leader in the organization, I was always asking questions of my team leaders and team members, “What’s happening, what’s going on, what should be? Is there any variation today?” It’s developing that problem awareness. If you have that engagement, and that buy?in and that conversation, then those folks are going to have a tendency to be more engage in problem-solving. That empowerment can make a difference.

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The Virtual Individual 0

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.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Working Online

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:     Take the person who works online, all the time. Let’s say, out of their home, or they’re always virtual. What are some of the challenges they have? We need that human contact – can that be done just virtually or not?

Dana:    Definitely some challenges that folks who work from home can face in terms of that human connection and feeling like they’re connected to the workplace. Especially if they’re one of the lone few who are working remotely and everybody else is in the office, right? They’re going to miss that opportunity to have some of that time to be able to get to know their colleagues and their coworkers beyond just the work that they’re doing – get to know them on the human level. Like, the stuff that they like to do outside of work, or build friendships and relationships in that type of working situation. However, I don’t think that it can’t be done.

I actually have a lot of my colleagues and great collaborators whom I have never met face-to-face, and yet have built such a deep relationship with them because we have spent time virtually getting to know one another, beyond just the work product. We take the time out to say, “Hey, how was your weekend? What did you do?” You know – what are the things that you like to do that really recharge your batteries when you’re outside of work. What are some of those things – and be able to take that time in the front-end of meetings to check in with each other beyond just the content or the results that we’re trying to achieve. If you have too much focus on results, you’re not attending to your personal relationships, or the relationships that actually help build and foster trust. That’s a critical component there. I think the other challenge that I’ve found myself – if I spend more than three weeks at my home office, not really interacting with anybody face-to-face, I seriously feel like I have atrophied skills with, like, networking and seeing people face-to-face. So I go out – if I’ve spent too long in my home office, then I go out to a networking thing or I go out to meet some people that happen to be work-related. I forget – what kind of questions should I be asking to get to know one another, like, I just forget about it, right? So, my skills atrophy, and I feel more awkward when I’m in a face-to-face environment. In order to combat that, I feel like, for me, it’s every two and half weeks is where I pretty much hit my mark where I actually need to have a human, face-to-face, contact in order to keep my skills sharp.

Joe:     So, you really should plan some type of business activity, or – can I go out with my bowling team and bowl, OK? I mean, would that be good enough?

Dana:     You know that’s interesting. I think that making sure that find time for both of those things when you’re working remotely is really critical and important. When I used to work for a company whose headquarters was on both coasts, and I was here in Denver – we actually had an office here in Denver, but I didn’t know anybody. Finding that collegial connection with others helps you become a continuous learner in your job and in your profession. So, I really do suggest taking time out for the types of things that you like – like going to bowling with your league, or, like I like to do, riding my road bike. That’s really critical because that gets you outside of the box of the stuff that you’re working on at work – but, similarly, it’s so important to be able to make connections in your network so that you can have conversations about stuff that you’re working on in general and get some kind of other expertise, or other expert insight into the work you’re doing so that you can maybe get a fresh perspective. At the same time, building these relationships for your network that are close to home, because you never know what happens in these days – one day you could find yourself working from home, and the next day you could find yourself not at that job anymore. What are the connections or networks that you fostered that can help you get your next job, or your next gig, or your next project.

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Using the Lean Startup Method for Product Branding 0

Author Laura Busche joined me for a conversation about startup branding. Her book is based on the Lean StartupTM  principles and is titled; Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)). It is part Laura Buscheof the Lean Startup series of books by O’Reilly.

Lean Branding is a practical toolkit that helps you build your own robust, dynamic brands that generate conversion. You’ll find over 100 DIY branding tactics and inspiring case studies, and step-by-step instructions for building and measuring 25 essential brand strategy ingredients, from logo design to demo-day pitches, using The Lean Startup methodology’s Build-Measure-Learn loop.

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One Bit of Advice from Lean Branding Author 0

Tomorrow will be a special edition of the Business901 Podcast. Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)) author Laura Busche joined me for a great conversation about startup branding. Her book is based on the Lean Startup Principles.  

An excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe: If you could give one bit of advice to someone about branding, what would it be? Lean Branding

Laura: A couple of bits of advice that are in the book, a couple of quotes that I’d like to highlight and that reflect this very solid advice that I would like to give to entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs that are trying to build their brands are, on one side we have this bit of advice, “People relate to people and if your brand feels like people, they’ll relate to you too.” The point behind that is that brands need to be humane and they need to react to people’s aspirations and they also need to build personalities that allow them to relate back to these people. So that’s sort of not very intuitive but once you start getting a hold of how other brands have done it which is something that the book does, you understand how important it is to be humane as a brand.

The second bit of advice which is also a quote from the book is that, “Successful brands have a compelling answer whenever consumers ask, what’s in it for me?” So the “What’s in it for me…” question is something that you need to address. It’s simple, if you want to write it down in front of you, if you want to write it on your walls, if you want to print it somewhere, that’s something you should do because this is the essential question behind your relationship with your buyers. It’s, “What’s in it for me…” and it’s something that the book highlights a lot. Whenever you’ve reached resonance which is what we call in branding, when your message is really being listened to by your consumer and understood, whenever that happens, it’s because you’ve provided a very good answer for their what’s in it for me question.

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Masters on Zero to One 0

The book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, presents a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places. Blake Masters

From the book:

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Copying others takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace; they will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Blake Masters was a student at Stanford Law School in 2012 when his detailed notes on Peter Thiel’s class “Computer Science 183: Startup.” The notes became an internet sensation. Before writing Zero to One with Peter, Blake co-founded Judicata, a legal research technology startup, and worked at Box and Founders Fund.

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How Well are You Connecting? 0

In Kanban, we talk about how important it is to manage our work in process. In fact Jim Benson’s latest book is on that topic, Why Limit WIP: We are Drowning in Work (MemeMachine Series) (Volume 2). I have always thought that it was just as important for Sales People to manage their Work in Process or their contacts. I have written on it in the past and built Kanban boards accordingly. I seldom find agreement on this subject.

The closest source I have in agreeing with me on this subject is Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits. She appeared in a past podcast on Business901 which you can access the Podcast and Transcription here: Tuning your Business Network.

She uses her connecting rule base on the Dunbar number. From Wikipedia:

The Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. This number was first proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.

I find her work fascinating and have incorporated it into my practice. Enclosed is a PDF of a Mind Map I created to implement her system.

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How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits.

 

Dan Jones on The Future of Lean 0

I ask Dan Jones,  “What is the future of Lean?” as part of the podcast/transcription: Dan Jones on Lean.  Dan is a management thought leader and advisor on applying lean, process thinking to every type of business across the world. He is the founding Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy www.leanuk.org in the UK, dedicated to pushing forward the frontiers of lean thinking and helping others with its implementation.


Dan Jones:  A lot of people want to pull Lean in the operational excellence box. And so OK, there’s a bunch of tools for operations folks, and I don’t have to worry about them. If I’m a senior manager, or if I’m in sales or if I’m somewhere else, I don’t have to really worry about them. Well, I think that’s not the true value of Lean at all. The future of Lean is about building a different way, building a management system to support the value creation process. We’ve done a lot of work thinking about what a Lean management system looks like in many different sectors. It is actually a different way of managing collaborative work, both within companies and between companies to create value for customers.

On the one hand, it’s about management. On the other hand, it’s also about rethinking and redesigning new ways of creating value that are now possible given technology, etc. On the other hand, envisioning the design of completely new processes and new business models that will in many cases replace the old ones.

What we’re doing is we’re at the moment still living in the legacy of the assets of mass production, the massive great hub airports, the huge massive central warehouses, the big superstores, the big district general hospitals and so on and so forth, the big postal sorting offices, the big back office headquarters or transaction processing facilities of the banks.

These are all legacies of mass production based upon routine operations and scale. What we’re doing now is designing a completely different business models that are not as asset intensive that are probably more technology intensive or IT intensive and I think open up a completely new ways.

We’re still living with those assets and until they’re depreciated or written off the new models struggle to survive. But I think it is happening. I just think in healthcare we are seeing the beginning of the end of the big district general hospital. I think in retailing we’re seeing the end of the big, big superstores as a way forward. Even Wal-Mart, along with Tesco and many others are now focusing on neighborhood stores, and they’re integrating those with home shopping.

Business models changes, I think, ultimately will come from our understanding or process view of the work, or how we organize the work to solve customers’ problems.

So I think those are two directions. I think the third direction is actually a learning dimension, which is that I think that we’re realizing that the quality movement, and certainly integrate into the Lean movement, taught us not only about the statistical analysis of variance but he taught us also about the value of PDCA ?? plan, do, check, act or some scientific method in solving problems, the closed loop of problem solving method.

I think there are people already beginning to start teaching that in schools, even in primary schools. I think teaching people a different way of thinking about how to solve problems is actually probably going to be one of the major lasting legacies of Lean.


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