Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Toyota's 8 Step Practical Problem Solving Methodology Overview


I was approached a few months ago by a group wondering what kinds of collaborative software might exist to support something called Sociocracy.  That was the impetus of my latest journey into the world of organizing on democratic principles.


This will be a lot more than one post, so I need to start with a general background on Sociocracy.  It was a movement started in the 1970’s as a way of running business based on the principles of sociology.  It is based on the ideas from Cybernetics (see Norbert Weinerand Stafford Beer).  It was promoted in the 1970’s primarily by Gerard Endenburg from Holland.
While democracy is rule by the mass of people, sociocracy is about rule by people who have a social relationship with each other.  The central idea is governing by consensus.  People are organized in circles, and circles meet to make policy decisions.  Large organizations are represented as a hierarchy of circles, with two representatives (double-linking) always bridging from one circle to another.  Part of the method involves avoiding voting:  Instead of calling for a vote and picking winners a slightly more elaborate mechanism produces a candidate which then goes through another pass to make sure that nobody has any objections.  Thus decisions are made by consent — something everyone can live with — not necessarily by consensus.  In this way it reminds me of IETF meetings which I participated in years ago that also eschewed voting in favor of what they called “rough consensus.”
There seems currently a resurgence for looking at ways of running groups in a non-traditional ways.  In an earlier post I covered the idea of self-management (Absolutely Self-Managed Workers) and a post on Wirearchy (Wirearchy – a pattern for an adaptive organization?).  John Hagel talks about Push and Pull organizations (The Power of Pull: Just Win, Baby).  Tony Hsieh of Zappos has put Holacracy in the news recently, and the distinction between this and Sociocracy is not clear to me.  These all seem to be appearing as alternatives to the more traditional scientific management (It is All Taylor’s Fault).
A cadre of organizational heavy hitters (Brynjolfsson et al.) has called out in “Open Letter on the Digital Economy” for a set of changes in public policy and research on how the economy is structured.  Steve Denning covered this in his article “An Open Letter From Silicon Valley Calls For Bold Organizational Reform” where he mentiones Sociocracy as one of 3 dozen initiatives for promoting innovative new organizational structure.
The Sociocracy movement in North America seems to be concentrated around theSociocracy Consulting Group, which includes John Buck and 7 others offering training in the method, and a loose confederation of others consultants (notably Sharon Villines) all somewhat associated with The Sociocracy Group from Holland.

Collaboration Software for Sociocracy

John Buck reached out to Fujitsu to see what capability we might have for flexibly supporting the working patterns of sociocracy.  This is not really a BPM problem.  The people who participate in a sociocratic circle are knowledge workers.  Thus you need something like case management.
He introduced me to a team of people looking to figure out exactly what would be needed.  Like all knowledge workers, the people running a sociocracy want to focus on their day job, and not on the software they are using.  The idea is to come up with something that fits the working patterns of a sociocracy without needing a lot of customization.  The idea intrigued me.
I hope to cover some of the progress in this direction in future posts.  For now, I hope only that this post has made you aware of a new, and up-coming innovative way to organize people.

Monday, 29 June 2015

How to cut costs with process analysis and process improvement


It is said that starting a business is one mammoth task as the challenges are high and risks endless.
But, managing a business and making it profitable is even a bigger challenge, especially when you are starting a small business. Having sustainable profits in any business increases its market value, and a poor profit level, on the other hand lowers its value, thereby making it harder to attract finances from outside sources.

Starting a business is just the first step that involves numerous decisions; from deciding on the product concept to creating a brand entity by proper advertising means such as flyer distribution Sydney, there are decisions to be made at every stage of the business. Also, new businesses have limited resources in terms of finance which makes the decisions further complicated.

task analysisRemember, the sole objective of every business is to make profit and it is very vital for the growth of any business. Once your business is up and running, you need to organize it in effective and efficient ways to make it more profitable. These actually lead to sustainable cash flows and that too, without them your business will never be able to survive. Also, business and risks go hand-in-hand, and businesses are always prone to risks, but adapting to new methods and taking preventive measures would definitely help managing the risks in business. Having a system is just the best way of managing things, whether it's the resources, your assets or the functional areas of your business.

Remember one important thing, the most valuable asset to any business is its people, and to attain a certain level you need to get the best out of your people. For that you need to deliver your employees proper information they need, and communicate with them to maintain healthy and long term relationships. Identifying the parts those are bringing good profits, always helps in determining your profit level, and that eventually helps you manage your costs properly. Using the latest technologies may help you run your business more efficiently and ease communication between you, your employees and your suppliers. Having the technology that's right for you is always beneficial for your business growth and success.

Always consider cash-flow strategies as your business grows, as it is the only thing that keeps the business running and even a little expense can throw away your entire business plan. Purchasing is one thing and a simple way to boost your profits, thereby increase your market value and by properly analyzing the ways you make purchases, you can control the unnecessary flow of money, allowing you to put it to better use. In addition, there are like number of factors that ensure your business is running smoothly and with minimal hiccups. Remember, there's a lot more ahead and there will be like several pitfalls coming along the way of your success.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Brain Awareness Will Be Essential to the Enterprise of the Future

Would you be OK with your neurologist surfing the Internet and responding to email while doing surgery on your brain? So why is that behavior the norm in important executive meetings that determine the future of a company?
Beliefs about how we work, and when we work, are being shattered by cognitive neuroscience research. Enterprises that understand the limits and needs of the most valuable and underutilized asset in their organizations — the brain power of employees — will capture a competitive advantage. Profits will follow. The brain-aware enterprise will structure work, configure office space and take into account the holistic needs of employees. It will recognize the many factors that cause unwarranted stress in the organization, decrease cognitive functioning and reduce employee performance.
The path toward a brain-aware enterprise has started with sessions at The World Economic Forum at Davos, and through initiatives at organizations such as Intel, Google, Facebook and NASA that will soon spread to other organizations around the globe.
This Gartner Maverick research was conducted by Jackie Fenn and me. It takes a peek into the future of a company that has based its culture and leadership around brain awareness. It then examines the underlying principles behind leading with the brain in mind, and identifies the opportunities and challenges of creating a brain-aware organization. These are organized into five key principles that will guide the development of brain-aware enterprises:
1. Brain state can be manipulated directly to optimize performance.
· The first step in developing a brain-aware enterprise is to acknowledge that the brain is something that can be actively observed and deliberately influenced. Practices like mindfulness are being practiced at leading organizations such as Google and Intel.
2. Knowing how to categorize brain states is essential to self-regulation.
· In enterprise settings, managers are always (and usually unknowingly) creating threats for their employees, and are experiencing threats as leaders. A key element of self-awareness is having the language to describe one’s own mental and emotional states, and to recognize (and influence) them in others.
3. Brainpower is a limited resource, and requires planning and scheduling.
· The human brain consumes a massive amount of our energy for its size, and tires easily. Structuring one’s day to take advantage of the two to three hours of quality cognitive power, where distractions are limited, is key to optimal performance in the brain-aware enterprise. This will require personal discipline and cultural change.
4. Peak brain performance demands mental, social and physical well-being.
· Brain-aware enterprises are realizing the importance of developing the “3D employee” by focusing on mental, social and physical well-being. The studies that show the relationship of the brain to exercise, sleep, nutrition and social interaction are a growing body of research, and create a compelling case to look beyond just an employee’s job performance. Brain-aware enterprises will look to strengthen social connections between employees, the enterprise and social responsibility. Napping at work will be in vogue: studies have shown that a short nap can reduce errors, and have a refreshing effect that can last a number of hours.
5. Building new neural pathways is essential for long-term change.
· Even when we embrace the principles of a brain-aware lifestyle and workplace, it is extremely challenging to make the long-term behavioral changes required to shift a culture. Leaders need to very consciously go “out of pattern” — even when old management styles are suboptimal, people tend to revert to long-established habits of leading and communicating. The easiest way to avoid old habits is to create new ones, and to reinforce them regularly. As techniques to analyze — and to even influence —brain states evolve further, technology will become an increasingly powerful way for enterprises to drive and to support critical behavioral change and performance enhancement.
Leading enterprises are already beginning to capitalize on this trend and we believe: By 2020, 50% of the highest-performing leaders and employees will routinely monitor and modify their own mental state to optimize their effectiveness.
The fact is that people can really work smarter, rather than harder. The brain-aware enterprise will adopt these techniques and reap the profits.
If you are a Gartner client read our research here. Jackie and I will be glad to discuss with you further.

To Grow a Digital Business, Learn from the Startup Community

It’s becoming increasingly clear that in the second phase of digital transformation, you can’t go it alone.

By second phase, I mean the creation of entirely new offerings that are possible only because of digital technology. The second phase is distinct from the familiar first phase, in which traditional offerings such as print articles are digitized and, in many cases, offered online.

The second phase is proving much more unpredictable, even in segments such as books, newspapers, music, and movies that are most easily suited to digital transformation. Most of us couldn’t have foreseen many of those segments’ second-phase products: live blogs, interactive content, streaming music, playlists, and peer-to-peer banking services such as those offered by Transferwise and Zopa.
The conundrum for incumbent companies is that they can’t very well capitalize on change if they can’t envision what change will look like.

What seems certain is that if you’re managing an incumbent company, you cannot predict, much less invent, the future on your own. Your employees are held back by a predigital worldview, and for the most part they lack the skills to develop cutting-edge digital offerings. So companies are increasingly seeking ways to tap into the creative milieu of the start-up world.

One option is to buy your way in. WPP, the world’s largest marketing-services company, has bought more than 400 digital businesses over the past decade, and it gives them sufficient autonomy that they continue to grow; around 40% of the company’s revenues now come from digital offerings.
You can also try to buy digital talent, but for that approach to work you need to give the people you hire a compelling reason to work for you. The Guardian newspaper, for example, has done a good job of integrating newly hired “techies” with journalists and commercial teams to create interactive content on its website.

The most ambitious approach is to work proactively with the start-up community — investing in new companies, working with entrepreneurs, and learning from them along the way.

Consider the Irish Times. As with other newspapers, its traditional sources of revenue were being eroded and it was on the lookout for new ways of attracting readers and advertisers to its web site. Its executives recognized that there was enormous scope to reinvent advertising online — to move beyond the traditional banner ads and pop-ups — but they didn’t know how to do it.

So in 2011, the publication launched a new model, called FUSION, for working with start-ups, welcoming a select group of new ventures into the Irish Times offices to help the company develop new digital offerings. The idea was that if you create cool user experiences online — a game, a search tool, a community-building site — then opportunities for new advertising inventory will follow. In 2012, the company selected five out of 105 applicants; in the subsequent year 20 were chosen out of 130. The start-ups were offered space inside the Irish Times buildings. A limited amount of financial and professional support was available, but there was no offer of equity investment from the company.

Johnny Ryan, the executive who created FUSION, saw it as a “validator” rather than an incubator: It forced the start-ups to face the hazards of the market, but with support from peers and mentors. For the Irish Times, it was an opportunity to get closer to the cutting edge of innovation in the advertising industry, and to act as a culture-change program for the established business. Several of the start-ups have now become viable businesses, new advertising inventory has been created for theIrish Times, and FUSION has been sold to Allied Irish Bank rebranded as the “AIB start-up academy.”
The Irish Times is not alone in working with start-ups to accelerate its own digital growth. Barclays Bank has invested in more than 20 start-ups in the last couple of years. Wells Fargo, Disney, and Microsoft have their own accelerators. In all these cases, investing in start-ups is a useful first step in making sense of a fast-changing digital world. Corporate executives are getting smarter and bolder in their approach to digital transformation.

Some industries, meanwhile, are way back on the learning curve. Business education — a field near to my heart — is one of them. B-schools and business-book publishers are creating digital offerings, such as MOOCs, but these are clearly part of the first phase of transformation, where standard products (lectures, articles) are converted to digital. I don’t think anyone knows what the future of business education looks like, and it seems highly unlikely that I or any of my academic peers will invent it. Do we have the courage to open up to outsiders to help us with the second phase of digital transformation?

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The 7 Types of Waste

Ensure Brand Longevity With A Sustainable (Technology) Strategy

While green and sustainable initiatives haven’t traditionally been a high priority for business technology decision makers, the growing urgency of climate change continues to place scrutiny on large resource users. In today’s hyper competitive marketplace, your customers, employees, partners, and possibly regulators are demanding more transparency in company operations and products.
In reaction to this trend, many organizations have already started to embrace sustainable initiatives as an opportunity to showcase creativity, technological achievement, as well as their brand’s commitment to the environment and broader community. In order to investigate this trend, my colleague and principal analyst Jim Nail and I set out to better understand the technology, processes and marketing strategy behind corporate sustainability initiatives.
The resulting report “Bolster Your Brand With A Greener Technology Ecosystem” outlines the buisness case and technology roadmap for sustainable initatives, intended to help your organization achieve and communicate operational excellence, while simultaneously providing further differentiation for your brand and organization.
The unexpected appendix
The original research project was designed to understand the position and influence of the I&O professional as well as the needs of the marketing organization. However, as a consequence of this effort I learned a lot about designing, building and executing a corporate wide sustainability strategy. While the report focuses on I&O and opportunities for collaboration with marketing, I wanted to share a broader overview of these findings.

1. Build the business case
To make the case to invest in sustainable practices, instigators will need to be able to account for and justify the inherent productivity impact fundamental to any operational and procedural change, as well as the capital investment in net new tools. While each organization is its own snowflake, across the board sustainability initiatives can help to:
■  Reduce costs. Savings will come from improved efficiencies in hardware, space, power and cooling usage, while reducing energy bills, prolonging equipment refreshes and additions, and extending the capacity of your facilities.
■  Mitigate risk. This includes preparing for future legislation and regulations around energy usage, diversifying your supply chain and assets, not to mention sustainable initiatives go hand in hand with process optimization, thus reducing the risk of operational failure.
■  Grow revenue. According to the 2013 CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report, “companies that have made the environment and sustainability central to their businesses strategies are seeing higher profitswhile also better positioning themselves for an uncertain future.” 
■  Create a competitive draw for employees. In addition to choosier customers, employees are also holding their employers to higher standards, choosing to work for organizations in which they can take pride.
■  Increase shareholder value. All of these factors together will impact business and shareholder value – better cost management, proactive risk mitigation, new revenue opportunities and a happy workforce.

2. Secure budget
Unless your business has embraced sustainability as a core directive within your company and product strategy, many of these projects might be stalled by financial limitations, especially given the difficulty of calculating return on investment.
■  Start with efficiency and optimization projects to free opex. Initiatives like consolidation, virtualization, and automation will increase efficiency in people, processes and technology. Bottom line: increasing efficiency will help your organization do more with less, and free up funds previously dedicated to MOOSE to spend on more innovative projects.
■  Investigate available government credits for energy reduction. For example, tax deductionsare available for commercial buildings that are constructed or refurbished to meet the latest ASHRAE Standards around energy and water efficiency.
■  Some utilities will pay YOU for energy reduction at peak usage. Utilities participating in demand response programs will pay large energy consumers to reduce electricity usage when the grid is stressed or there is a shortage of supply.
■  Apply for green bonds. Depending on the initiative, you may qualify for a green bond. In 2012, $3 billion green bonds were sold, and in the first 6 months of 2014, that number increased to $20 billion.

3. Set goals and strategy
For those who are beginning from scratch, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a great place to start as they have already developed sustainability reporting guidelines that are used today by many organizations globally. Whether your goals are around energy reduction in operations, supply chain, or increasing community engagement and service, it’s important to:
■  Set goals that are achievable. Whether you are setting goals for next year, or the next 10 years, it can be easy to get carried away with the possibilities. While far reaching aspirations are great for inspiration, in practice sustainability leaders need to be able to set goals that are reasonable within the circumstances.
■  Be able to track and measure progress. Now that you’ve sold the value of this initiative to your leaders and investors, you will need to be able provide regular progress reports. The task starts with measuring your baseline – current energy usage, carbon emissions, ewaste, water usage, etc across your people, processes and technology – to compare against available benchmarks like theCommercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). While this initial task can be daunting on its own, not to mention ongoing measurement, consider investing in tools, like data center infrastructure management (DCIM) or energy management tools that, once implemented, will be able to automate much of this work.
■  Demonstrate success in accessible metrics. Think about your audience – executive team, employees, partners, or consumers? Your average consumer might not be able to contextualize an energy usage reduction of 100 kW per year, but saying that you reduced your CO2 emissions from 7.8 gallons of gasoline might make more sense.

4. Engage and encourage stakeholder participation
In order to successfully implement sustainable practices throughout your organization, you need to establish an effective umbrella project team, governance model and engagement strategy for leaders, employees, and partners. And at the end of the day, the success of this will not only depend on the enthusiasm of your stakeholders, but also active participation across the organization.
■  Define roles and responsibilities. To lead sustainability initiatives, many organizations have appointed a chief sustainability officer (CSO), and/or have created ad-hoc teams from many departments to plan and orchestrate these projects.
■  Involve your stakeholder community. While inspiration and guidance can come from the examples of peers and organizations like The Green Grid and GreenTouch, achieving a consensus for prioritization can be difficult. To help guide this exercise, investigate the priorities and expectation of your stakeholder community – employees, investors, shareholders, partners, and customers. 
■  Create incentives for participation. Many of these initiatives will require significant changes to employee behavior, from commuting habits, paper usage to composting food waste. Without defined goals and incentives, employee participation will be difficult to instigate and sustain.
■  Leverage engagement tools and platforms. While incentives will help to encourage participation, the end goal should be to drive fundamental changes throughout individual behavior and not just in the work place. To facilitate this transition, some organizations have leveraged social platforms to create communities where individuals can share their achievements and get inspired from their peers. And it never hurts to add an level of competition from interdepartmental challenges to gamification. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

How knowledge management drives enterprise strategy

Why Does Your Business Need Lean?

Nowadays, competition on the global market is tough. Companies need to constantly enhance and evolve. Implementing Lean Manufacturing and Lean Tools are a proven method to improve business and beat the competition.
Lean Manufacturing is a business improvement philosophy which focuses on the true needs of the customer by preventing waste from being built into the system. Waste is regarded as non-value adding operations such as transport, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, overproduction and defects which are irrelevant for a customer. Some studies suggested that added value takes place around 5% of the time within operations and the remaining 95% is waste.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean Manufacturing originated from the Toyota Production System, one of the most successful automotive manufacturers, ever. MIT study of the success of Toyota sets the five Lean Manufacturing Principles:
·      Specify Value - as seen by the Customer
·      Identify and Create Value Streams
·      Make the Value flow from raw material to Customer
·      Pull Production not Push
·      Strive for Perfection
Once a customer sets the value, a value stream flows meeting the needs of the customer by preventing the creation of waste and according to the customer preferences. As a company reduces these wastes and strives for single piece flow, many other benefits will follow.
Improved Customer Service
The first principle of Lean is identifying value as perceived by the customer; customers need to be provided with what they want, when and where they need it.
A company is successful as long as the customers are satisfied. If a company always supplies top quality products and services on time, at the right place, those satisfied customers are going to keep on returning, allowing the business to thrive.
Easy Management
One of the major advantages of implementing Lean into organization is getting more done with less people. As waste is reduced there is less space and manpower required to manage.
The workflow results in manufacturing cells which puts machines close together so that a single operator can manage many pieces of equipment with the minimal energy. The workers’ main task is to enhance skill level and properly maintain the system, once it is implemented.
The Lean approach starts at the bottom of an organization and proceeds up unlike Six Sigma which is a tops-down management philosophy, in which the management imposes changes on the work process. In Lean system, each individual worker within a work cell tries to improve his or her performance. A role of the management is to go on the factory floor and check what is happening and in accordance provide additional training, promotion, and learning.
Improved Quality and Fewer Defects
A lot of the activity in a lean environment is focused on quality improving. Without waste and its additional costs such as transport or inventory, the product gets added value and better quality. In a top quality production there are fewer defects and if they occur they are easily eliminated.
Reduced Waste
Waste is a significant product within any process.
The Lean Approach is focused on improving process speed and quality through reduction of process waste. Waste consumes energy, money, and is of no value to the customer.
Another approach, Six Sigma, which also aims to make processes and the business more efficient, identifies waste as results from variation within the process and tries to reduce it by eliminating variations in the process.
In The Lean Approach, reduced waste means less transport, less moving, less waiting, less space required and reduces all variations throughout the process.

If the Lean principles are properly set in the company, the financial benefits are highly significant. A satisfied customer will make any business operate smoothly. The reduction in waste and defects adds additional money which should be set into quality improvement and the better product quality ensures higher profit.
The money saved on product storage and inventory management adds additional cash flow in the company. However, less employees means additional training for workers but with clear work instructions and standardized work the job is easily and more eagerly performed. Managing satisfied workers is easily conducted and makes any business prosper on the long run.
Lean Manufacturing is a business philosophy which has proven highly successful since it can reduce costs, eliminate waste, increase productivity, maintain high levels of quality and thus make a significant increase in your profit.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Demand process leadership – safe operations thrive on it

Jan GillettThis weekend, after reading a fascinating article focusing on the findings of a leaked report that has been investigating Crossrail’s potential health & safety issues over the last year, yet again I was reminded that safety management is a process issue.
Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction contract, costing £15bn over several years. The tunnelling part of the work is nearly complete, many kilometres of mainline railway tunnels and shafts excavated with extraordinary precision under London. While regular reports show the project to be on time and on cost, there is some debate as to how it is being run.
We know that people —leaders and operators alike—do not want to make mistakes or generate stress and fear in managing for safety. But how they are recruited, trained, informed and engaged are all key factors in safe operations.
Of course, time alone will tell how close the report is to reality, and what changes it will stimulate but it does demonstrate that there is a lot to be learnt from the lessons of sixty years in transforming processes to improve product and service quality and effectiveness – and safety.
Process-based management is essential, for safety performance is an outcome of how the work, works. In turn, that is a consequence of the systems and processes that have been developed, and how they are operated, monitored and responded to. In other words, safety is as much a consequence of the work as is product or service quality, and subject to exactly the same principles methodologies and tools.

What happens when no-one is on hand to observe the operations?

A very old question conundrum is; “If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there, does it make a noise?” The answer depends on a lot of assumptions but for our purposes the truth is that the great majority of work is carried out without a manager or supervisor being able to observe it. No amount of technology or inspection can take away from that truth, we have to trust the operator.
All work, whether operating a £200m tunnelling machine or responding to a problem from a mobile phone customer, is a process—a sequence of tasks hopefully adding value on behalf of a customer.
Effective, reliable and safe work demands that the process is capable, the operator is trained and competent, and that the surrounding support processes enable consistency and success.
It is pertinent to be reminded of Dr W Edwards Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge, developed in the 1980s after 60 years of practise in organisational transformation. It has four components, of which this is a very short summary;
  1. What is the system, what is its purpose, who are the customers, suppliers, what is the flow of the work?
  2. How does the work vary, how much waste is there? Do people know the difference between an abnormality and a problem, and the different management responses they demand?
  3. How do people learn, do they share theories and test them robustly.
  4. What do people thinking about their goals, rewards, communication, decision-making authority—amongst many personal factors.

Illuminating the challenge of safety in major projects:

  1. Systems Thinking. The overall project is probably well defined, but what about the many enabling systems—for recruitment, training, time allocation, materials supply etc. etc.Who is the customer?For instance, in the safety arena, the customer is the worker, not the client. Is everyone clear on what these systems are trying to accomplish, and do they know how to recognise if a change is improvement?
  2. Theories of variation. Is variation in all the key factors monitored and intelligently responded to? This would mean that the everyday ups and downs, comings and goings, are kept track of by people at the workplace (trees falling in the forest being noticed). Or is it the case that only such events that cause a “problem” get investigated? Are we searching for someone or something to blame? This leads to covering up, and to “fixing” preventions when something is found. The result is a succession of fixes imposed one on another, eventually collapsing either in confusion, or literally as an accident.
  3. Theory of knowledge. Is data collected to inform those close to the work, to see if processes are running consistently?It should be displayed openly and where that work is taking place. Managers should visit the location to review it with their people, taking time to get the sense of routine or common cause variation, and to recognise special causes when they appear – as they will.This approach regards all work as a learning opportunity. Applying the scientific method to generate continual improvement while it cannot watch all the proverbial trees when they fall, it can give assurance that the data is representative enough to be useful.
  4. Psychology. Are people at the workface clear about their job, confident they have the skills, materials and services to do it? Do they feel listened to when they raise concerns? Are they able to make decisions in the interest of safety without fear of accusations of causing delay?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked.
The key value identified by Dr Deming, validated by our practise over the last 30 years, is that all need to be considered, and we need to understand their interactions. Trust is needed if data is to be collected accurately and the purpose of the system must be coherent and understood by the people in the system if it is to be operated constructively.

In conclusion

Everywhere we look we find that work is indeed a process. Leadership is always important, honesty and trust are essential to effectiveness, but “by what method?” is at least as important as “who?” and process management offers the principles, methods and tools to continually transform the work, to the benefit of customers and workers alike.

If Coffee Machines Had Ears, What Would You Learn About Your Employees?

Everywhere you turn, people are talking about data—how to capture it, what to do with it, and what it all means. We’re familiar with the term Big Data, and know that with exponential growth in personal computing devices, there’s going to be more data than ever. Right now, the spotlight is on how to use the data that is being captured, but we are forgetting about the data that isn’t finding its way to us. This can include information like employee conversations and insights that are valuable to ensuring business success. But, how do we capture this type of unique data?

Chatting Around the Coffee Machine

An age-old office practice is chatting around the coffee machine; while coffee machines may have evolved over time, what happens around them hasn’t. Employees gather, refill coffee mugs, and engage in that old-fashioned thing: a conversation. Some of what is discussed details weekend plans or the purchase of a new dress, but what about casual conversations regarding how the new order process is taking twice as long as the old one? What happens to this data, and what would the coffee machine know if it had ears?

Create the Ears

There’s good news: Your coffee machine can have ears! Well, not exactly. But you can easily enable your employees to share valuable insight without offering yourself up to be bombarded with emails. Enterprise social networking (ESN) can be your ears, and empower your employees to use their voices in a meaningful way. No longer do these conversations have to be confined to small groups, or bounced around as emails that can get lost in inboxes; they can now be broadcasted to the right audience and consumed at a time that suits all concerned participants.
Think of the day when coffee machine conversations become posts on an internal social network. Watch as fifty other employees comment or “like” a post to show their support that the new order process is too lengthy. That’s the day when you will be able to implement a change to improve your business process and your employees’ job satisfaction. They spoke and you listened; you listened because for the first time, you were able to hear. Now, replicate that across all departments in your organization, and imagine the potential such a tool could unlock!
Try tibbr to see how TIBCO’s enterprise social networking tool can provide you with the ears to gain valuable insights into your company.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Rosabeth Moss Kanter on Innovation

Leadership: The power of focus. And of thinking differently.

Earlier today JP Nicols (a friend and colleague) posted a tweet that caught my eye – it was a post honoring Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, on the 3rd anniversary of his passing and directed me to a brief video of Jobs. I took a few minutes to check out the video. You should too.
The video shows an internal company meeting at Apple in 1997. Steve Jobs had recently returned to the company after Apple’s acquisition of NeXT. Wearing shorts and his infamous black turtleneck, he appears casually on stage and starts talking about his vision for the company, about connecting with people in a way that most companies don’t (except the best companies in the world) and he talks about the reboot at Apple.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Specifically, he highlights a number of key principles that have (in hindsight) propelled Apple forward:
  • Getting back to basics – great products, great marketing and great distribution
  • An acknowledgement that Apple has in some cases drifted from doing the basics really well
  • A realization that Apple (in 1997) was trying to do too much – with too little focus.
The realization that they were doing too much led Apple to eliminate 70 percent of the product roadmap. 70 percent! By any standards that is a huge number. The contention was that a simpler product line would be a better product line.
In launching the actual commercial and the principles behind the “Think different” approach to marketing, Jobs talks about the need for the company to “think differently” about the products, and the impact that they will have in a very busy, very noisy world. If you listen carefully, you’ll see how he is emphasizing the need to think differently even before he unveils the “Think different” messaging.
One last highlight – instead of differentiating Apple from the competition on the basis of technical performance or hardware attributes, Jobs encourages the company to talk about the impact they will have on the world.
Ultimately we all know how this story unfolds… if stock price in an indicator of success, the results have been pretty impressive … Check out the trajectory of Apple’s stock since 1997.
Steve Jobs is almost universally regarded as a leader. His focus and vision were key elements of his character as a leader. So the challenge to us all is this:
  1. Are we clear about our vision – not in a lofty, nice-sounding-themes-and-words kind of way, but in an “our company will have this impact on the world” way?
  2. And are we focused – enough? Or do we need to cut X percent of the busy effort that we (and our teams) are doing and FOCUS on what is important?